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George C. Marshall High School The Importance of Being Earnest

By • Apr 18th, 2011 • Category: Cappies

Lies, love, and cucumber sandwiches: George C. Marshall High School presented Oscar Wilde’s audacious satire of the Victorian aristocrats, The Importance of Being Earnest. Written in 1895, it was a witty satire that brought a magnifying glass to the many social niceties and conventions of upper-class society.

A young gentlemen, known as Jack Worthing while at home in the country, takes the name Ernest when in the town. With this persona he may do as he pleases without sullying his reputation. His secret is discovered by his aristocratic friend Algernon Montcrieff, cousin of Gwendolyn Fairfax, the lady Jack wishes to marry. Algernon keeps quiet about Jack’s real name, and uses it for his own mischief. He himself takes the name Ernest Worthing to the country and masquerades as Jack’s wayward brother with the intent of meeting his friend’s young ward, Cecily.

Oscar Wilde’s immortal wit came to life through this lively cast, each and every one making their voices heard, with proper British accents preserved through the duration of the play. The resplendent scenery, in turn brought the audience into Victorian England itself. The occasional piano music in the parlors and birdsong in the garden only served to add to the setting.

Charlie Belt as Jack Worthing was charming and sincere, and brought about a lively and clever character, exchanging witticisms with Algernon with fluid ease. Melissa Goitia played well-bred, upper-class young lady Gwendolyn Fairfax. Her presence was posh and authoritative; noticeable but never overpowering.

Neil Wilcox-Cook highlighted the show as Algernon Montcrieff, ever the leisurely upper-class wit with his feet on the table and a profoundly nonsensical quip up his sleeve. Sarah Chapin played Lady Bracknell with all the poise and proper carriage and authority to make any grande dame proud.

The entire cast stayed in character throughout the length of the play, particularly when they did not have lines. They reacted and interacted with the setting and other characters when others were speaking. This was particularly effective in any scene that involved eavesdropping.

The sets were detailed and elaborate. The country garden overflowed with birdsong, running water, and trellises of flowers. The London townhome was every inch the proper British drawing room, with warm lighting and tea settings and portraits on the walls. Rarely static, (unless they were sitting as proper young ladies) the players moved and interacted with the props and sets, whether lounging with feet on the table or munching the ever-present cucumber sandwiches and muffins between lines. The costumes were well-designed and period accurate, perfectly in place yet never distracting.

As said by Algernon, “Anyone can play accurately — but I play with wonderful expression.” And indeed, this cast presented this Victorian classic both accurately and with wonderful expression.

by Elizabeth Skelton of Teens and Theatre Homeschool program

Photo Gallery

Michael Steiner, Dani Fletcher Neil Wilcox-Cook, Charlie Belt, Lily Roth
Michael Steiner, Dani Fletcher
Neil Wilcox-Cook, Charlie Belt, Lily Roth
Neil Wilcox-Cook, Charlie Belt, Melissa Goitia, Lily Roth Sarah Chapin
Neil Wilcox-Cook, Charlie Belt, Melissa Goitia, Lily Roth
Sarah Chapin
Charlie Belt, Melissa Goitia
Charlie Belt, Melissa Goitia

Photos by Peter Nguyen

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