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Evaluation: A traditional, screwball comedy opens the Citadel's new season

A solid of indelible characters finesse considered one of Oscar Wilde’s most well-known items, The Significance of Being Earnest

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What’s in a reputation?

Apparently a fantastic deal, particularly for those who’re a pair of genteel, well-heeled women like Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Each are passionate and glittering younger issues, and each have set their caps for his or her respective future husbands, who occur to be named Ernest. This is essential to each ladies, who merely can’t envision a life with anybody named anything. The issue, sadly, is that neither Ernest really exists.

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Seems like a knotty premise for a play, and Oscar Wilde’s witty high-society satire, The Significance of Being Earnest, is strictly that. Particularly for the primary individuals, who’re entangled in webs of their very own making. A fast recap for many who missed the play in highschool: insouciant slacker Algernon (Alexander Ariate) banters along with his buddy Jack Worthing (Jeff Lillico), who has come to London with the intention of proposing to Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax (Amelia Sargisson). A little bit of sleuthing by Algernon reveals his buddy has been mendacity, presenting as Jack within the metropolis whereas dwelling as Ernest within the nation.

The explanation? So as to escape the routine of elevating his 18-year-old ward Cecily (Helen Belay) at his nation dwelling, Jack has invented a layabout brother named Ernest who he should continuously rescue within the metropolis. That is interesting to Algernon, who reveals he additionally has an invented character named Bunbury he makes use of as an excuse to flee household obligations, corresponding to dinner along with his aunt, the formidable Girl Bracknell (Nadien Chu). He calls what Jack has been doing “bunburying” and evinces an untoward curiosity in younger Cecily, a lot to Jack’s fast displeasure.

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A screwball comedy written the yr earlier than screwball comedy directing legend Howard Hawks was even born, The Significance of Being Earnest can be a torrent of quotable strains. Generally they’re deliriously weird, like Girl Bracknell’s declaration, “I don’t approve of something that tampers with pure ignorance. Ignorance is sort of a delicate, unique fruit; contact it and the bloom is gone.” Different instances they’re splendidly unselfconscious, as when Jack admits, “it’s a horrible factor for a person to seek out out immediately that every one his life he has been talking nothing however the fact.”

Oh, the travails of the very rich. Each Ariate and Lillico spin off one another properly as Algernon and Jack respectively, frenemies as a lot as associates, squabbling and jabbing as they pull one another into bother. Sargisson and Belay are equally well-matched as by turns confidantes, allies, fierce rivals, every brandishing diary-like parodies of Jane Austen heroines. Love blooms in all places. Citadel stalwart Julien Arnold makes an look because the bachelor Rev. Canon Chasuble, chased by Cecily’s tutor, Miss Prism, who’s performed by Davina Stewart. All of it ties up in a fully ridiculous manner.

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These are all indelible characters however in lots of respects, the play belongs to Girl Bracknell, a fierce whirlwind of stern decorum, imperious glares and sophistication haughtiness. Chu has to wrestle with the general public’s reminiscence of such performing legends as Judi Dench within the position, and by the point she has the 4 lovers cowering on the ground in entrance of her you recognize she’s claimed the character for her personal. Tightly packaged in repressive Victorian put on courtesy of costume designer Michael Gianfrancesco, she cows everybody round her in an try to ensure they keep inside the established order.

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The Significance of Being Earnest

When By means of Oct. 15

The place The Maclab Theatre on the Citadel, 9828 101A Ave.

Tickets Beginning at $40.25 prematurely from

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