MMNT’s latest production proves earnestly funny

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Mary Moody Northen Theatre breathes new life into a classic with their latest production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

The play itself is witty, quick and tricky to pull off with clarity, however director Richard Robichaux does just that. His direction is quick, clever, well-adapted to the round and never lulls. Robichaux presents the play with the social satire as lively and precise as its debut more than a century ago.

He does this with the help of a talented team of designers.  The set by Ia Ensterä mimics the top of a wedding cake. The elegant white and gold stage with accents of green, pink and blue provide for an environment almost as charming as the acting.  

The lights by Stephen Pruitt provide an ambience of magic and costumes by T’Cie Mancuso are incredibly ornate.  Likewise, the hair and makeup skills of Tara Cooper lend an air aristocracy to the actors.

The play itself is a clever web of deceit, high society and witty one-liners. Wilde spins the tale of the consistently befuddled Jack (junior Jon Richardson) and the terribly sly Algernon (junior Josean Rodriguez) and their potential lovers Cecily (senior Sophia Franzella) and Gwendolyn (junior Hannah Fonder) respectively, both of whom only want to be married to a man named Earnest.  

Unlike many shows at St. Edward’s, the  student actors are given all of the leading roles in “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and for good reason.  They took on the period accents with ease. Each of them brings a cleverness, dignity and likability to their characters even as they lie, cheat and trick each other.  

The students are supported by an amazing ensemble of equity artists including Irene White as the meek but adorable Miss Prism, Robert Faires as the upright but clueless Dr. Chausible, and Barbara Chisholm as the boisterous and brassy Lady Bracknell.

Some of the most memorable scenes involve the commanding Lady Bracknell disapproving of something or another, however it took nothing more than a side glance for Chisholm to have the audience roaring with laughter.

Much like the script, the production team has created a tight, smart and well-crafted show full of laugh-out-loud moments as well as poignancy.  Wilde himself could not have hoped for more.