Why ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is an important play to see

Ambrose Cappuccino playing Algernon Moncrieff, and Barry Keene playing Mr John Worthington in The Importance of Being Earnest (Lhoycel Teope )

David Gutman

Saddleback College’s performance of Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest” charmed audience with a witty, updated portrayal of Victorian age satire.

The play began on at the McKinney Theater Nov. 3 and will be finishing it’s run on Nov. 12

Adapted and abridged for a modern audience by Harold Silker and Director Patrick Fenell “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a classic comedy of errors.

The play involves two gentlemen named Algernon Moncrieff played by Ambrose Cappuccio and John Worthington played by Barry Keene respectively.

The main plot point is the fact that the character of Worthington created and uses an alias of a younger brother named Earnest, he would then pretend to be Earnest whenever he wanted to go do “activities” that would ruin his reputation as an upstanding gentleman.

Unfortunately when Moncrieff finds out about this sham, everything goes downhill when he decides to take advantage of the situation.

Original piano music was written and performed by pianist Ashleigh Harris to enhance the emotion of key scenes and to add a little bit of comedic timing. These scenes were often accompanied by funny, awkward choreography between Cappuccio and Worthington.

Cappuccio’s portrayal of Moncrieff was very entertaining, playing the character with an effeminate attitude to mirror Oscar Wilde’s real-life attitude.

“Fennell wanted me to be effeminate but I really didn’t want to go too far that I would insult people,” Cappuccio, 20, theater said.

Another positive aspect to the show was the clever set design to the show. The set designer used forced perspective and a sloped stage to make the stage and rooms look much bigger than they actually are.

This created a sense of depth that is lacking in many musicals seen at the McKinney theater.

While the show was very entertaining, Samantha Baker as Lady Bracknell was very dificult to understand. While she accurately portrayed the aggressive, snooty woman, her voice failed to reach past the third row and anything past that sounded mumbled.

While many people would feel apprehensive about seeing a show that has been abridged from it’s original script, some people claimed that they were given a better understanding of the story.

“I’ve seen the show more than once and I didn’t quite get it,” said Lorie Jacobs, Angel of the Arts. “I now have a bigger understanding of the plot after seeing this production.”

First brought to the stage in 1895 “Earnest” has many parallels to reality of Wilde’s life according to Fennell.

Allegedly, Wilde led a homosexual affair with British Lord Alfred Douglas which led quite a controversy back in the late nineteenth century.

During the first performance of “Earnest” there were reputed to be almost three rows of men with green carnations on their boutonnieres which has become a symbol of Gay pride and tolerance.

To tie-in to the performance, green carnations were made available with donations contributing to the Saddleback’s Gay-Straight Alliance group.

“Dr. Fennell thought that the carnations would be a great way to celebrate the spirit of Oscar Wilde while simultaneously supporting a good cause on campus,” said Elliot Klinge, the house manager.

Another side attraction to tie-in to the performances, was a raffle that involved people attending the show with period attire getting a ticket. According to Klinge the prizes were free tickets to any McKinney Theater performance in the future.

Riley Moriarty (right) plays The Hon. Gwendolyn and Barry Keene (right) plays Mr. John Worthington (Lhoycel Teope)

Anthony Houghton playing The Reverend Canon Chausable, Barry Keene as Mr. John Worthington, Anastasia Christensen as Miss Cecily Cardew and Ambrose Cappuccio as Algernon Moncrieff. In this scene Mr. John Worthington mourns ‘the death of his brother’. ( Lhoycel Teope )

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