It?s important to be earnest

Briaune Knighton

‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ a British comedy play, made its premiere at CSUN Oct. 10 -12 and 15 -19. This was a student production and was directed by Ron Popenhagen, and was performed in the Little Theatre in Nordhoff Hall.

The play was written by Oscar Wilde, and originally premiered in 1895 at the St. James’s Theatre in London. It takes place in a Victorian society which, in the CSUN production, was portrayed primarily through the dress attire as well as through the speech, as the actors took on a Victorian lingua to bring the play to life in its original manner. The portrayal of the play at CSUN was the rarely-produced four-act original version.

The play is about John Worthing, the protagonist of the play, played by Dwight McKnight, and his friend Algernon Moncrieff and aristocratic young Londoner, portrayed by George A.V. Ackles, and their quest towards love, happiness and identity. John, who goes by the name of ‘Ernest’ while in London, lives a double life, as does Algernon, who calls this lifestyle ‘Bunburying,’ named after his pretend friend ‘Bunbury’ who supposedly lives in the country and is frequently sick. Algernon uses his fake friend’s illness to leave frequently and venture out on ‘adventures,’ as well as to avoid social obligation.

In the country John is the held very highly in the community of Hertfordshire, where he is guardian to Cecily Cardew, portrayed by Julie Brett, who is the pretty, 18-year-old granddaughter of the late Thomas Cardew, who found and adopted John when he was a baby. He makes frequent visits to London on ‘business trips’ and to bail his made-up brother Ernest out of trouble, which he is frequently in. In the city he feels the fictional name fits him well and lives a lavish lifestyle. The name ‘Ernest’ is also admired by John’s love interest, Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolen Fairfax, played by Laura Velasquez. Gwendolen loves him primarily for his name and can’t see herself with anyone named anything other than ‘Ernest,’ which is the reason why John feels forced to keep the name.

When John confesses his true identity to his friend Algernon, he also tells him of his ward Cecily. Algernon becomes intrigued by the stories of this young girl and decides, without telling John, to go ‘Bunburying.’ He takes on the identity of John pretend brother, Ernest, and goes to John’s home in country to meet this Cecily, who he falls in love with. This trip causes truth of identity to surface and more surprises come forth.

The play was taken very well by the audience who seemed engaged with laughter throughout most of it.

‘I came to see my friend perform on Friday, but wanted to come back and see it again,’ said 19-year-old Child Development major Ashley Coleman.

‘The play is very witty, fun, and charming at the same time. I enjoyed how they make fun of both women and men.’