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‘Earnest’ parodies societal irony

“Earnest is a divine name. It has a music of its own. It produces vibration,” Gwendolen swoons, in Oscar Wilde’s classic play, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Under the direction of Janine Christl, the Fresno City College drama department performed this masterpiece, Oct. 11-18. The young actors, Jarod Caitlin, Fragino M. Arola, Gabriela Lawson and Ashley Hyatt, showcased remarkable and memorable talent. The characters were captured and brought to life through the struggles of romance.

Caitlin’s fast speech is hard to pull off, but he projected his lines with clarity, creating a quick-thinking and self-absorbed character.

The Importance of Being Earnest resembles a Shakespearian romantic web. The story follows four young individuals: Jack, Algernon, Gwendolen and Cecily as their relationships become more and more twisted.

Jack (Arola) creates the name “Earnest” for himself, and to his benefit, the title wins him Gwendolen (Lawson) — the glamorous girl of his dreams. His name alone causes her to swoon.

Meanwhile, Algernon (Caitlin) borrows the alias for his visit to the country, where he meets Cecily (Hyatt), whose guardian happens to be Jack. Cecily, a young girl with playful dreams of romance, often writes love letters to herself and imagines being swept off her feet by a knight in shining armor.

Cecily falls head-over-heels for the devious Algernon, based on the fact that his name is Earnest.

The two unfortunate women meet and become aware that they are apparently engaged to the same man — the mysterious “Earnest.” So begins the conflict as Cecily and Gwendolen battle it out to win their man.

Jack and Algernon are forced to reveal their lies concerning names, and after several hilarious mishaps, each woman decides to forgive them.

Just as matters seem resolved, Gwendolen’s aunt protests her engagement to Jack due to her prior complaints of Jack having being discovered in a black handbag as an infant.

Jack’s bitterness to the situation muses him to oppose Cecily’s engagement to Algernon. He refuses to give consent, since he is her protector. Lady Bracknell, who highly approves of the marriage, is outraged.

The couples must once again struggle for the right to marry their beloved while discovering, in essence, the importance of being Earnest.

The play is easy to follow and comical despite the complicated plot. Wilde’s intricate scheme does not lead the observer to confusion, but instead creates a compelling tone of clarity and coherent script arrangement.

FCS drama instructor Tom McEntee admires Wilde’s ability to clarify a befuddling situations and apply ironic morals.

“The language of the play is simply perfect,” McEntee said. “(Wilde’s) choice of words is brilliant. Precise bits of wisdom and views on life are scattered throughout the play. His quotes are so relatable.”

Such quotes are exemplified through the witty words of Lady Bracknell (Mary Piona). In Act III, she says, “London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained 35 for years.” The self-explanatory quote displays the timeless tendencies of human nature.

Wilde observed society’s everlasting fashion to stage the bitter ironies of life, which continues to amuse audiences.

“Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?” Jack’s quote presents the priceless stereotypes of men with shallow conduct.

Wilde takes his audience through situations of love and comedy, and entices spectators with a hint of irony.

For more drama reviews, visit the Oct. 20 article, Twain touts political pessimism.

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