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Marquette Wire

Review: “The Importance of Being Earnest” ends run at Helfaer Theatre

The play is a retelling of a famous screenplay by author Oscar Wilde.
Photo by Trevor Tosto
The play is a retelling of a famous screenplay by author Oscar Wilde.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a comedy theatrical performance by Oscar Wilde that was performed by the Marquette Theatre from Feb. 17 to Feb. 26 at Helfaer Theatre.  

The storyline is comical and drama filled. It covers two men: Jack Earnest Worthing, played by Matthew Torkilsen, a junior in the College of Communication, and Algernon “Algy” Moncrieff, played by Matthew Read, a senior in the College of Communication, who lead double lives. On the one hand, they are Jack and Algy but on the other hand, they go by Earnest to escape their realities and hectic lives.

Earnest was the name that Jack made up and told his family in the country that Earnest was his long-lost brother. But soon Algy became intrigued and decided to use the name Earnest to gain further knowledge into Jack’s life in the country.

The show on Thursday, Feb. 23 had ¾ full audience with older adults and a handful of Marquette students.  

The play had a simple setting. It depicted the late 1800s era beautifully. The set had simple wood front doors laid over two steps, with white floral tables and chairs. 

To correctly show the setting of the play, the 19th century, the actors dressed in high-end rich outfits. The men wore plaid suits with a tie ties, while the women wore long dresses with lace detailing. The women also wore fancy side hats with extravagant detailing and flowers.  

The little details to the outfit like the gloves the men wore, or the umbrella Gwendoline Fairfax, played by Miranda Hunt, a senior in the College of Communication, carried around in the second act portrayed the era perfectly.  

The show contained comical scenes throughout. My favorite scene was between Jack “Earnest” Worthing and Lady Bracknell, played by Martilia Marechal, a senior in the College of Communication.  

Lady Bracknell was looking to see if Jack ‘Earnest’ would be a good candidate for her daughter Gwendolyn Fairfax. Lady Bracknell asked Earnest if his parents were still alive, and Earnest explained they had both died. She replies, “to lose one parent is unfortunate but to lose two is careless.”  

After this was said, the whole audience was dying of laughter. This scene contained multiple jokes that kept the audience engaged and laughing.  

The actors had to speak in 19th-century English and in a British accent. At times it was difficult to understand because I’m not used to hearing it, but as the show progressed, I was able to understand the language better.   

Although the play was comical and filled with drama, the more I reflected the more it showed that there is a deeper message to the play, like upper-class standards. 

This was captured just by looking at the dynamics in their house. Algy had a servant named Lane, played by Michael Mingus, a first-year in the College of Communication. Anytime Algy rang the bell, Lane appeared and was ready to abide by any of Algy’s requests.

During this era having a servant when rich was important. The play also shows this through the “problems” that Algy and Jack have.

The problems that they had seemed so trivial and over the top compared to everyday problems that non-upper-class people had. The show highlights this by making fun of the characters and their problems.  

Algy and Jack feel that due to their social class, they have to hide who they truly are by using the name Earnest.

This play was over the top dramatic and comical, but it kept the audience engaged throughout. However, there was about 10 minutes between the acts, and it felt long, and I was anxious for the next act to start.  

Overall, I would rate the play 8 out of 10 stars. It was a wonderful display of the 19th century and rich people’s problems while also bringing drama and comedy to the mix. However, at times it was difficult to understand the actors because of the British accents and English that was used.  

This story was written by Aiyona Calvin. She can be reached at [email protected].

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