OCU Theater goes Wilde with its production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' 

auto 0in">To this day, the play persists as one of the greatest comedy of manners in the English language. The plot follows the exploits of two gentlemen, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, in 1890s England. The pair live double lives "? one in the city and another in the country "? and have a common goal in avoiding unwelcome social obligations. This web of deceit eventually leads to cases of mistaken identity and hilarious romantic confusion as Jack and Algy have to decide on the kind of men they want to be and learn how names change everything.

Like all of Wilde's plays, "Earnest" is packed with clever dialogue and witticisms that many feel is rivaled only by Shakespeare in its scathing satirizing of the hypocrisies of late Victorian society.

But several OCU performers said the difficulty of performing in plays like "Earnest" is not the comedy.

"I was able to find the humor very quickly, but finding the heart and soul underneath that drives the character has been pretty tough," said Quinn Gasaway, who stars as Algernon.

The sentiment was echoed by Kristi Forsch, who said it was a challenge "not getting caught up in a caricature" of her role as Lady Bracknell, "instead finding the truth" in the character.

Fortunately, not every obstacle during production was so serious.

"Some of the most challenging work has been trying not to laugh at everything," said Shelby Nash, who performs as Gwendolen. "The cast is so dynamic and quick that there's something new to work with every day."

The cast's commitment to bringing the production to life with characters that, while brilliant, have a grounding in a reality while also maintaining a high energy comedy is best summed up by Forsch.

"Wilde has written this comedic masterpiece and I know that if I am not completely exhausted by the end of the night then I have not done the character or the show justice," she said.

Chosen specifically for its unique wit and candor, Director D. Lance Marsh hopes the production will expose audiences to a style of comedy that will redefine their theatrical experience. According to Marsh, "Earnest" is one of the funniest plays in the English language because of its comedic versatility.

"Funny, sexy and silly haven't changed that much in the last 113 years," he said, "Wilde exposes this fact of human nature as he questions and challenges everything we take for granted. He has created a world in which we can still experience 21st-century passion and relevance in 19th-century style." 

"?Eric Webb

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