Last Saturday, the High School performed the play production The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wild (1895). The Importance of Being Earnest is a well-known play written in the Victorian era that follows two young men, Algernon Moncrieff(Cyriac Charignon) and Jack Worthing(Mirav Mukherjee), who is known as Ernest.
The play starts in Algernon’s flat with his manservant Lane(Nick Laubacher) and waiting for his friend Jack(who he knows as Ernest) to come. Ernest arrives and reveals to Algernon that he wants to propose to Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen(Kahani Malhotra), and Algernon says he will not consent to the marrige unless Ernest explains a message in his cigarette case saying “From little Cecily, with her fondest love to her dear Uncle Jack.” Ernest/Jack admits to leading a double life, his real name being Jack and that he lives out in the country with his ward, Cecily Cardew(Charley David), and he pretends to have a bumbling brother named Ernest as an excuse to come to the city, and Algernon admits to a similar arrangement, pretending to have a friend named Bunbury who is chronically ill as an excuse to get out of social obligations. Speaking of, Gwendolen and her mother Lady Bracknell(Katie Crampton) arrive, and Algernon distracts Lady Bracknell while Ernest/John proposes to Gwendolen. Gwendolen reveals that she will never marry a man not named Ernest, so Jack decides to rechristen himself as Ernest. Lady Bracknell interrupts and then quizzes Ernest on a number of things, and is horrified when she finds out Ernest was found in a handbag in a train station and adopted, and she refuses to give consent to his marrige proposal. Gwendolen manages to stay behind for a bit and Algernon manages to find out Ernest’s country address, and the act ends.
The second act begins in the garden of Ernest/Jack’s country manor. Cecily is studying with her governess Ms Prism, when Algernon shows up pretending to be Jacks (fake) brother Ernest, and they fall in love. Cecily reveals that she too will only marry a man named Ernest, so Algernon decides to rechristen himself Ernest as well. Jack then arrives, pretending that his brother Ernest has died, only to find that Algernon is there pretending to be Ernest. Gwendolen also arrives and talks to Cecily, both of them proclaiming that they are engaged to an Ernest. Both of the men also arrive, and their deceptions are exposed. The men have a heated argument while the girls retreat to the house.
In the third act, the men and women are giving each other the silent treatment, but they both thaw to each other and Algernon proposes to Cecily, and Lady Bracknell arrives. She is shocked on learning that Algernon and Cecily are engaged, and even more so when she finds out that Cecily is heir to a large fortune, and she approves the marrige, but will not consent to Jack marrying Gwendolen, so Jack will not consent to Algernon and Cecily’s marriage. They are at a standstill until Ms.Prism reveals that she left a baby in a handbag in a train station while she was in Lady Bracknells employ, and they deduce it was Jack. Lady Bracknell then reveals that they named the baby after his father, Ernest. The marriages are all agreed to, and the play is ended with Jack delivering the line: “I know understand the importance of being E(a)rnest”
That was a long summary, so some not summary things will now follow. The acting was very good with each actor playing their role almost to perfection, and I thought that Cyriac’s playing of Algernon Moncreiff was very good. The props and backgrounds were really good, and the costumes were perfect.
Interview with the directors:
What was a challenge you had working on the play?
I think one of our bigger challenges was timing. We started very early on in planning our costumes, set design, prop ideas because from past experience so many things are always left to last minute. That being said, so many things did have to be left to last minute. Some of our thoughts around set design changed and the times when the National Art Honor society could come in and paint were limited — especially since we were trying to do full run-throughs two or more times a week. Luckily, with team work we came together and finished the set and blocked the scenes we needed to and it all came together well!
What was your favorite moment working on the play?
I’m not sure I could just choose one favorite memory during the play, so i'll talk about a few. We looked at the script and the story and analyzed how best color theory would let our audience understand the story with just visuals. We created color pallets of the red for the luxurious high-class town family and blue for the country family and you see that as the set changed, and the characters change costumes the story is reflected in color. Those conversations were long but so meaningful as they set the foundation for everything. I also loved watching our actors trust us and try things that maybe in the end didn’t work, but maybe they did. They also added their own spin to the scenes which we may not have thought of ourselves.
I’ve been doing theater at AES since 8th grade, entirely backstage but never really in a decision making position. Being able to add my own spin and having people trust us on that, was inspiring and allowed me to see that I could lead a group of people. In essence, the entire process, from start to finish was a blast and I’ve created memories I will hold onto for a lifetime.
(Esther Rubin, Director)
The play was an amazing experience, and it played on(and ridiculed) many themes from the Victorian era. It was great to watch, and really was an interesting(yet also funny)play. Many people turned out to see it, and i’m sure they enjoyed every bit of it.
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