Notre Dame students put 'Earnest' effort into Wilde classic

Thursday, November 4, 2004

For its latest theatrical production, Notre Dame Regional High School takes on Oscar Wilde's classic comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest" and the results are admirable.

The play focuses on friends Algernon Moncrief and Jack Worthing and the romantic entanglements that arise from their dual identities. Worthing has invented a brother named Ernest that allows him to leave the country and visit the city, while Moncrief has invented an ailing friend Bunbury that allows him to escape to the country.

Moncrief falls in love with Worthing's young charge Cecily and Worthing falls for Moncrief's cousin Gwendolen, but both women are under the false assumptions about the men they want to marry.

Wilde's play is an exercise in wit that skewers everything from the social class to gender roles in late-Victorian England and the main star is the dialogue.

The dialogue remains as clever as ever and some audience members may recognize familiar lines such as "To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose both looks like carelessness" or "All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

Still eliciting laughs

While lines like these may still elicit laughs, a good deal of the subjects the play takes aim at do not have a lot in common with modern-day America and there can be a bit of a disconnect for today's audiences.

That is not to say that "The Importance of Being Earnest" is not an entertaining farce that will have you listening attentively to every line.

Notre Dame students do a good job delivering some challenging material with flair and confidence. Ryan Bollinger as Algernon Moncrief and Chris Heggemann as Jack Worthing are highly amusing in their scenes together and are complemented nicely by Brooke Heischmidt as Cecily Cardew and Sarah Nenninger as Gwendolen Fairfax.

Claire Edwards brings the perfect haughty demeanor to the character of Lady Bracknell.

The production's sets are also a success, bringing the audience from a elegant English sitting room to an outdoor garden with a minimal amount of props that puts the focus more on the actors.

Also in the production is Jonathan Long as Reverend Chasuble, Rachel Roggow as Miss Prism, Brian McCrate as Lane and Kent Buxton as Merriman. The director is Cynthia King, who is also the set and lighting designer, while Jessica Andersen and Joelle Trower are the assistant directors.

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