For over a week leading up to opening night, students at Upper Dublin High School were left to consider a pressing question: Who is earnest? The only way to discover, it seemed, was to purchase a ticket to the high school’s November 11th-14th show.
Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, which was directed by UD’s talented Mrs. Nicole Gerenyi, was a play set in Victorian London. The production follows two friends who use the same alias — Ernest — in order to impress the women in their lives. This show worked on a number of levels, one of them lying within its cast members. The group was able to deliver relentless squabbles with wit and impeccable timing. Among them were Sam Caplan, portraying Algernon “Ernest” Moncrieff, and Riley Tollen as Jack “Ernest” Worthing. The two kept the audience in constant suspense as another comical dispute was bound to ensue. Whether the hilarity was displayed in a fight over muffins or a simple back-to-back exchange, Caplan and Tollen stood as the epitome of what a comedy should be: smart, fast-paced, and demanding a laugh.
Other memorable players were Josie O’Connell as Cecily Cardew, Jessica Anninos as Gwendolen Fairfax, Morgan MacNaughton as Lady Bracknell, and Steven Aronow as Reverend Chasuble. No matter their roles, they all moved the audience with stand-out lines like “I love his hair so much!”, “Men are infinitely beyond us!”, and “Miss P-p-p-prism.” The co-stars backed up simple phrases with jubilance and drive, undoubtedly heightening the stakes of the plot and adding to its incredible levity. Also to be noted are the stellar performances of Christian Frentzen, Cynthia Noehrenberg, Anastasia Weggel, Ben Helzner and Sydney Quan. These actors not only gave their all to their characters, but they also kept the audience smiling through undeniable insanity. With last year’s scintillating production of Dracula, Earnest had gigantic shoes to fill. However, it quickly proved to be its equal, housing a packed audience each performance.
By the time the story had drawn to a close, many viewers may have been left wondering the nationality of the actors. Such a sensation can be attributed to the crisp English accents that held strong from start to finish. This, according to Weggel, was a learned skill. “Each rehearsal began with a vocal warm-up,” she explains, referring to an enhancement of pronunciation. “Most of us had trouble at the beginning, but by the end each line was spoken fluently … we weren’t allowed to speak with American accents while we were at rehearsal.” Quan seconds this: “Then we plug in our earbuds and listen to some British podcasts. It stimulates our brains and gets us into our British accents easier.”
So, who is earnest? There is no true Ernest, but is there earnest? Well, that’s a question that is still up for debate. “Gwendolen is the most earnest of the bunch,” Quan believes, referring to the innocence of Jack’s lover. Contrarily, there are Weggel’s thoughts on the matter: “Not a single person in the importance of being earnest [sic] is earnest!”
Whatever the case, the show left viewers with the message of honesty as the best policy, gave both cast and crew a sense of unity, and led every single witness to an intense hunger for muffins. That being said, a big congratulations to the entire cast, as well as the crew; their works in set design, costume, lighting, public relations and sound helped to make it the lively, clean-cut show that it absolutely was.