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Evergreen Players present an Earnest tale to make Wilde proud


Thursday, November 7 marked the opening night of the Loyola Evergreen Players’ latest show, The Importance of Being Earnest. The Oscar Wilde play, first performed in the 1890s, was brought to life once again in McManus Theater at Loyola. Directed by the theater department’s own Dr. James Bunzli, the show ran from Thursday to Sunday this weekend with great success.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a self-acclaimed “trivial comedy for serious people” and a satire of modern life, its institutions, and its artifice. As Dr. Bunzli explained in the program’s “Note from the Director,” Earnest is “pure silliness, the height of serious artistry lavished on the most trivial of people and situations.”

It chronicles the escapades of two main characters, friends by the name of Ernest (played by Joe Mucciolo) and Algernon (Claudio Silva) living in London in 1895. Both men harshly criticize marriage and lead fictional, double lives in order to get out of their various social engagements. This is what Algernon calls “bunburying” and it allows the two men to live separate lives in the town and country. When they have the opportunity to marry the women they love, however, they end up caught in their own web of lies. (Spoiler alert: Ernest might not be Ernest. Ernest might not exist at all.)

Victorian society is very constricting—as Algernon’s aunt Lady Bracknell (Anna DeBlasio) continually makes clear when she quizzes people on their upbringing and social status—but definitely very funny. As someone who has read The Importance of Being Earnest, but never seen it performed, I had quite high expectations and the Loyola students of the cast and crew exceeded them.

The small, talented cast stole the show this weekend, so to speak. I cannot say I have ever heard better British accents, even from real British people, and I was thoroughly impressed by the actors’ and actresses’ ability to keep a script straight when names were constantly being switched around. (Even when reading Earnest, it is rather difficult to keep track of who Ernest is on each page.) I could tell from my seat in the audience that these students were passionate about their performance, and they made me want to see more shows in the future.

“I love Oscar Wilde,” said Danielle Bonanno, ‘14, “and being able to bring his timeless wit and classic humor to life was so much fun.” Bonanno, who has also been in past productions such as Titanic: The Musical and Lysistrata, played Gwendolen Fairfax, Algernon’s cousin and Ernest Worthing’s love interest. She was one of nine in this play’s cast.

McManus Theater’s size made the well done play even more funny and intimate by allowing the characters to stand near to the audience and deliver their witty one-liners, up close and personal. Even several rows back, I could see every eyebrow raise and the comical way in which the always-hungry Algernon Moncrieff—hilariously portrayed by Silva—munched on cucumber sandwiches while talking animatedly. (And I was impressed by his multitasking, I must say. It cannot be easy to eat in front of a large audience and discuss the benefits of bunburying with your mouth full.) I could almost see into the diary of young Cecily (Claire McCrea) when she held it out for Algernon to read.

The three-act play’s set was composed of revolving flats that allowed for quick transformations in between acts and made the audience member feel as if he or she was really there, in the garden with Gwendolen and Cecily when they meet for the first time or in the house where Ernest lived. These interior and exterior sets, along with the actors and actresses’ beautiful costumes, were historically accurate down to the laced boots and men’s hats. Sitting in the audience on Friday night, I felt as if I had been transported to the Victorian era and given an exclusive viewing of Oscar Wilde’s latest play.

If you did not attend last weekend’s production of Earnest, you certainly missed out on a spectacular performance that pokes fun at the artifice of modern people. However, there are upcoming productions you won’t want to miss, like the Loyola Poisoned Cup Players’ production Every Year at Carnival, directed by senior Melanie Megale. Every Year at Carnival will run in McManus Theater from November 21 to 24, so be sure to get your tickets soon.

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Evergreen Players present an Earnest tale to make Wilde proud