‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ review
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
The Importance of Being Earnest is a classic play written by the witty Oscar Wilde in 1895 that was quite successful in its time. Its popularity has not ceased and it continues to be performed by professionals and amateurs alike. This week, it is being performed by the Douglas College theatre program students in the Studio Theatre until March 14.
Set in Victorian England, the play follows two upper-class gentlemen named Algernon Moncrieff (played by Sam Hahn) and John Worthing (Jordy Matheson). John lives in the country with his ward Cecily (Aylin Vandeputte), but often travels to London under the alias of Ernest. His girlfriend Gwendolen (Alexandria Gamache), who also happens to be Algernon’s cousin, knows him under this pseudonym. Algernon finds out John’s secret and decides to steal the Ernest name for himself in order to propose to Cecily. In true romantic comedy fashion, John discovers his best friend’s plan and hilarity ensues, especially as others also become aware of what is going on. It’s sort of a cross between Fawlty Towers and Downton Abbey with a bit more romance.
The show features lots of high-class, proper British culture in its plot, dialogue, props, set design, and even in the voices of all the actors. The complete seriousness with which the actors play their roles is very impressive, as is their dedication to their characters. They are all very believable in their parts and completely pass for their characters’ ages. The costumes and props all look authentic and even the subtler aspects are notable, such as the way female characters walk while holding up their fancy dresses.
Perhaps part of the reason the play is so entertaining and popular is that it seems incredibly relevant. Even though it’s a period piece, many of the witty observations are still apparent today. The quips range from comments about romance and marriage to satire of society and social customs. One of the most reaching quotes is when Algernon states, “It is absurd to have a hard-and-fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.” That’s food for thought that can be applied to almost all of the entertainment that exists today.
The Importance of Being Earnest runs until March 14. I highly recommend it for fans of theatre, British culture, or comedies in general. The visuals are great, the actors deliver solid performances, and the play itself is delightful and hilarious. That’s the pure and simple truth, even if, as Algernon puts it, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”