Georgia Regents University Theatre presents Oscar Wilde’s classic Victorian satire, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” this weekend, October 7-10. As implied in the play’s full title, “The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” it is part satire, part comedy of manners, part intellectual farce and it serves as an outlet to spotlight the social conventions of late Victorian London.
In the play, it seems many of the characters grow weary of their everyday lives and create alternate lives, or in John/Uncle Jack Worthing’s case, alter egos to help cope with the tedium. Jack (portrayed by Bobby Jones) has responsibilities: he is a major landowner and justice of the peace, with tenants, farmers, servants and other employees all dependent on him. As a way to escape, he pretends to have an irresponsible black-sheep brother named Ernest who leads a scandalous life and is always getting into trouble that requires Jack to rush off to his assistance.
His best friend Algernon (portrayed by Chris Venable) has developed an imaginary friend, a chronic invalid named Bunbury, who he uses as his excuse to lead a double life and shirk social obligations. Even Cecily (portrayed by Lylli Cain) invents a love affair between herself and the “wicked brother,” Ernest, whom she has never met. Hilarity and chaos ensues as the play climaxes and the cases of mistaken identity clash in Act II.
“She might be innocent, but she’s also very witty,” Cain said about her character. “I feel like I relate to [Cecily] strongly, in the sense that she knows how the world works but she also has a very sweet demeanor.”
Cain was requested by the play’s director, Carolyn Cope, to read for the part of Cecily after the original actor had to drop out. Cain has acted in other productions at GRU, but said she really enjoys this role because it is one of the first major parts she has been cast where her character is dynamic and shows some growth throughout the play.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” Cain said. “It’s unlike any character I’ve had before. In the past I would have either smaller roles, or a role that was quite static.”
Gwendolen Fairfax (portrayed by Ashton Montgomery), is the love interest of John Wothing’s alter ego, Ernest. She represents the pinnacle of Victorian high society, but despite her very uptight mother (portrayed by Paul Jones), Gwendolen manages to retain something of a fun and flirty side, Montgomery said.
“I think she’s a very fun character to play,” Montgomery said. “She’s very classy, but then she has that little ‘oomph’ to her, I guess you could say.”
Even though the play is set in the 1800s, it is a comedy and it is very funny, Montgomery said. She encourages everyone to come out to see it and says that the humor is very easy to understand.
“The Importance of Being Earnest”
GRU’s Maxwell Theatre
Thursday-Saturday, November 7-10, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 10, 3 p.m.
General public, $10; seniors, $7; students and children, $5; GRU faculty and staff, $4; GRU students, free