With a beautifully crafted stage, captivating actors and an intriguing storyline, “The Importance of Being Earnest” successfully transports its viewers to Victorian England to witness the comedic lies of two young bachelors unravel.
Its first production of the academic year, the Ring Theatre held showings of the play from Oct. 6-13.
Written by Oscar Wilde in 1895, “The Importance of Being Earnest” tells the story of Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing, two men who, to escape their monotonous lives, each take on the persona of the fictional gentleman, “Earnest.”
In a series of comical revelations, the two men must maneuver through the uncovered lies to win the hearts of their beloveds.
Bruce Miller, an experienced director who worked for UM for 26 years, returned from retirement to direct the production.
The costumes, designed by associate professor of costume design Michiko K. Skinner, captured the essence of Victorian fashion with wonderfully put-together waistcoats, colored suits and elegant gowns.
The scenery, designed by associate professor of professional practice Brandon M. Newton, also encapsulated the late 19th century with a simple but alluring layout. Scene changes during the show set the play between two cities: London and Hertfordshire.
What won the hearts of the audience, however, was the actors’ spectacular performance. Each role was executed with enough energy to keep the audience engaged throughout the two hours.
Senior musical theatre major Owen Trawick, who played Algernon Moncrieff, demonstrated masterful comedic timing and fully embodied his character through subtle movements and a sassy tone.
Complementing Trawick’s carefree character was senior musical theatre major Keenan Lyons. Lyons successfully portrayed Jack Worthing’s frequent frustrations towards Algernon’s insufferable nature and skillfully conveyed the respectable and witty sides of the character.
Trawick and Lyons weren’t the only dynamic duo in the production. Dominique Karanfilian, a senior musical theatre major, played the fashionable and strong-minded Gwendolen Fairfax.
With energetic movements, excellent vocal cues and a strong understanding of the personality of her upper-class character, Karanfilian’s performance was one of the best in the production.
Junior musical theatre major Maggie Rabitsch played Fairfax’s young and innocent counterpart, Cecily Cardew. Rabitsch’s vivid facial expressions and overall wittiness perfectly portrayed Cardew’s status as the youngest in the play.
Her expressions and delivery were full of emotion, exhibiting the sensitive and romantic nature of the young woman. The stark differences between the two love interests produced hilarious banter that filled the audience with laughter.
The remaining cast members — including senior theatre arts major Hector Montoto, junior theatre and music industry major Josephine Dinan and junior musical theatre majors Ian Luk and Leandrea Brooks — all added extra charm to the play with their unique performances.
The plotline itself was just as entertaining as the actors. What starts as a simple problem that Worthing could have easily solved evolves into chaos when Algernon’s decision to appear as another Earnest disrupts his plans.
With such disarray, the audience could not help but sit at the edge of their seats to see how things would unfold.
On top of the chaos was the presence of small, briefly mentioned details which would play a significant role in the play’s plot. Near the finale, these small details became relevant again to resolve a final issue in an unpredictable way, creating a sense of surprise that left the audience in awe.
The hard work of the students and staff paid off, as the production exceeded expectations and has become an instant favorite. Ultimately, the performance demonstrated to the audience the “vital importance of being earnest.”