"The Importance of Being Earnest" arrives at Fitchburg

Playing tonight at 7:30. (Photo by Flickr)

By Brett Abraham
“The Importance of Being Earnest,” presented by the Communications Media & Industrial Technology departments, is a good-humored and enjoyable play. Mainly built upon simple comedy, the play is easily entertaining, enjoyable and affordable for all ages, considering the pleasant lack of an admission fee. Its appeal to young love adds an interest to the college audience it is built for.
The play was written by acclaimed playwright Oscar Wilde. At Fitchburg State it was directed by Kelly Morgan, and showcases some of Fitchburg State’s finest acting talent. This play has a very light tone, while very heavy in dialogue. Set in early 20th century England, it follows two friends, John and Algernon (played by Matt Lewis and Dustin Bragga, respectively), who both find love while “bunburying,” or going to another location and pretending they are someone else.
Most college students may not be inclined to see this play because of the playwright. As many people know, Oscar Wilde wrote plays, poetry, and novels during the late 19th century, and, because of this, many people may believe that this thoroughly enjoyable show may be riddled with the stench of boring language and outdated jokes. Fortunately, for just about everyone, these jokes are far from old or outdated: the gags appeal to young and old, educated and uneducated. It ranges from simple facial expressions to the mocking of mores of the era. Each act is crammed with hilarity and delight.
The acts open with the two butlers (John Ardini and Coty Markee) setting the characters in place for the audience, acknowledging them with amusing facial expressions and body language. The first act continues the amusing tone, introducing about half the characters during its first half. Unfortunately, the remainder of the first half feels lengthy, with too much dialogue that is not exceedingly humorous or informative.
While a difficult act to get through, the struggle is more than worth it. The second act picks up the pace, introducing the remainder of characters, and filling the audience with laughter. The interaction between the “bunburyers” and their lovers is pure comedy. I found myself amused by almost every line, perfectly delivered by their respective actors. The third and final act is even more comical. The irony throughout the act is flawlessly surrounded by one-liners, analogies, and just laugh-out loud funny jokes.
The actors throughout each act were cast ideally. Bragga and Lewis’s moments together are some of the best, played as if they were two little children who just love to argue. John’s lover, played by Alyssa Jayne Bartholomew, faultlessly portrays a not-so-innocent and spoiled young woman, while often opposite her strict and pompous mother, played by Sarah Morin. The two are able to depict a mother-daughter relationship expertly, seeming natural for the actresses. Morin also plays a commanding character so well, that the audience would be willing to come to her every beck and call if she requested.
Algernon’s lover, Samantha Wheatley, plays the innocent girl with a bad side just as well as Bartholomew, and the sisterhood represented by the two women brings both whole-hearted laughs as well as a sweet and loveable connection between the naïve young women. The two are also a part of arguably the most humorous scene throughout the play, in which the two and their fiancés inadvertently mock the patriarchal society of the time.
All in all, “The Importance of Being Earnest” is among the best shows I have seen at Fitchburg State, as well as among the best I have had the pleasure of attending in recent memory. I not only recommend this play to Fitchburg State students, but to anyone else that has the opportunity to see it. The shows will be Nov. 19 and 20 at 6:00 p.m., and Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. All showings are in the Wallace Theater for Performing Arts in McKay. Go and you may even catch me at my third attendance!
While the admission to the play is free, the production is accepting donations to send students on a trip to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts next semester, as well as for a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland over the summer. They are accepted at the door.