FC's 'Earnest' makes for bloody good show

Fullerton College Hornet  - Michelle Florea - Friday, October 24th, 1986
EARNEST ARRIVES-Jack (Don Mercer) proposes to Gwendolyn (Michelle Muratori) in the FC Theatre Arts production of "The Importance of Being Earnest." Performances of this comedy of manners are Oct.:16-18 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m.

Obsessed with proper deportment, class,. and manners, the upper-crust Victorian society of the late 19th century England was - "bloody" stuffy.

Delightfully, the FC Theatre Department's production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance - of Being Earnest" was anything but. In fact, if the Theatre Department can, sustain the excellence of its Oct. 16 opening night performance, it should have an' extremely successful season.

From the-set design to the costumes and cast, the production brilliantly captured the rigid eloquence and. elegance of Vic"torian, England-then proceeded to poke fun at it within the farcical plot.

Act one of the two-act play takes place in the London parlor -of one Algernon Moncrieff, played with deliciously wicked intent by David Paris.

Paris plays the rich, spoiled and indulgent. Algernon to a "tea." Although.the character shamelessly. schemes to serve his own ends, Paris gives him .a likeable 'little boy naughtiness rather than a truly malicious persona.

A suave, debonair, and selfassured Jack Worthing (AKA Earnest) was played with thorough competency by Don Mercer. Cocky, obnoxious and also a bit boorish,.Mercer nevertheless also brings to Jack/Earnest. a subtle vulnerability that softened, the character.

Pamela Parish's Lady Bracknell was a true delight. Her rendition of Lady Bracknell-as the morally uptight, shrewish, and proper aunt captured the essence of Victorian high society.

Jack's intended,' Gwendoline Fairfax, was depicte - with obnoxious sophistication by Michelle Muratori. Gwendoline's expression, and carriage. were wonderful to watch. One could almost see the inner workings of her diabolical mind as she strove to get close to Jack, (or rather, Earnest).

All hell broke- loose in the. second act, set at Jack's country estate, as Jack and Algernon put their schemes to win over their loves into action. With Lady Bracknell running interception, the result was a Victorian .Age "Three's 'Company" style slapstick, as the plot grew stickier and stickier.

The young and impressionable Cecily Cardew, Algernon's love and'Jack's ward, was played with Bambi-like innocence by Andrea Stevens. Stevens' portrayal of the airheaded ingenue was a perfect contrast to Owendoline.

The supporting. characters of the governess Ms Prism and Reverend Chasuble, played by Lisa Laguette and Kyle Myers respectively, proved that not everything is what it seems to be 'nor should.be expected to be.

Laguette gives the dizzy and straight-laced Miss Prism an unexpected sexuality and sensuality not usually seen in a proper governess, with comical consequences.

Likewise, Myers' ..Reverend Chasuble is-a hilarious contradiction in religious sobriety and giddy emotionalism as he attempts to woo Miss Prism.

Of special note is Randy Carlson's portrayal of Algernon's manservant Lane. Though his lines and appearances are few, Carlson milked them to the limit. The, stiff, hunchbacked Lane in his seemingly subservient obsequiousness is uproariously funny.

"The Importance of Being Earnest" was the first treat in the Theatre Department's bag of tricks. It was a delightful foray from the standard brand of comedy. Methinks, we'll get more of the same in future performances.