Anonymous Theatre is written theater at its most spontaneous. The actors for the event were cast in secret for a production of The Importance of Being Earnest; memorized their lines on their own; met with the directors of the production three times (total!), alone, for extremely basic blocking instructions. As I write this they have no idea who else is in the play with them, and will not know until Saturday night, when each actor enters the stage, in character, from their respective seats in the audience, and start delivering their lines. When Algernon meets Cecily for the first time, the actor playing Algernon will really be meeting the actress playing Cecily for the first time.

In traditional theater, where the cast has been working together for some time, the reactions are elaborate hoaxes, concentrated efforts by the actors to "act natural," to hide the fact they've rehearsed every scene dozens of times. The cast of Anonymous Theatre won't be hiding anything; there's nothing to hide. There is no established chemistry. It will all be created organically, onstage, in front of the audience's very eyes. The "acting natural" won't be an act, it'll just be "natural."

Clearly, there is a potential for extreme danger at this thing. The Importance of Being Earnest is a strange choice for such an experiment. Stylized and uppity, it's an ensemble piece that traditionally involves precise timing between the actors for its barrage of clever one-liners to hit home. The chance to develop this timing does not exist here. Earnest is also a three-hour play. If things ain't working at Anonymous Theatre (and if they ain't it will be almost immediately apparent) they won't be working for a long time. Most rehearsed productions of Earnest in this day and age have a tough time making it crackle for its duration.

So it remains to be seen if Anonymous Theatre's fascinating premise can win out over its questionable play selection. Either way, the energy at this show will be electric. Actors rarely get to perform these kind of exhilarating stunts, and audiences rarely get to see them. If the stunt fails, it will fail magnificently, like a daredevil misjudging his leap across that canyon, falling like a dying firefly into a seething abyss. JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS

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