Concordia Delivers with Wilde’s Wordplay Classic
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 14:10
There is a list of plays and musicals that everyone should get to see at least at some point in their lifetime—shows so well-sewn into our pop culture it is unavoidable to not hear of them. Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” is on this list of must-sees, and area audiences had the opportunity to check it off last week at Concordia College.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” deals deeply in wordplay, twisted phrases and statements that make a person pleasantly think twice, and is the most popular and enduring play of Wilde, a late-19th century playwright
Jack (Ben Habegger) and Algernon (Riley Peterson) are two twenty-something bachelors in Woolton, England who each have their eyes on women they want to marry. For Jack, it is Algernon’s cousin Gwendolyn (Emily Breitbach), whose mother Lady Bracknell (Thomas Hacker) is dead set against their marriage.
Algernon has his heart set on Jack’s ward Cecily (Shelby Coulter), a country girl under the tutelage of fussy schoolmarm Miss Prism (Collette Hagen). However, both men have a twisted situation on their hands that complicates their impending marriages; they are known to each of their fiancées as Earnest.
Gwendolyn and Cecily’s infatuation with the name Earnest inspires both Jack and Algie to present themselves as such, leading to a colossal confusion when both ladies meet each other in act two. Breitbach and Coulter’s catfight of ladylike proportions was as entertaining as the wordplay flung between Habegger and Peterson’s characters throughout their ordeal.
Hacker had his moments as the disapproving Lady Bracknell, a wonderful part traditional played by a male. Clucking with displeasure at the engagement of her daughter and crowing with delight at the engagement of her nephew, Lady Bracknell represented the stiffest stereotypes of those at the top of the social ladder. Hacker can be congratulated for carrying a part that seemed hard to keep a straight face while playing.
An underlying plot was apparent while twists of the tongue were at the heart of this show, and it even answered questions brought up by Lady Bracknell in her interrogation of Jack early on in the story. A full circle is present in the frame of this play, and though the mass of wordplay may have confused some in attendance, the satisfactory fact of fulfilling all the answers to this show left everyone content.
Concordia College Theatre can chalk up a win with this one, as presenting such a strong piece of theatre in a very friendly fashion made for a sturdy start for the rest of their season.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” ran at Concordia’s Lab Theatre from Oct. 1 to 6.