MSD Drama performs first play of school year, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’

Andie Korenge, Feature Editor

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School drama department performed “The Importance of Being Earnest” on Thursday, Nov. 3 and Friday, Nov. 4 marking their first play of the school year. Described as a Victorian comedy, the play is witty, full of eccentricity and suspenseful in its absurdity.

MSD drama department brought to life, via their own interpretation, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” It follows two men, John Worthing played by senior Jacob Harris, and Algernon Moncrieff played by senior Nicholas Bedusa, who both pose as a man named Ernest. Both “Ernests” attempt to earn the love and hand of their desired partners, Gwendolyn Fairfax played by senior Naomi Sternberg and Cecily Cardew played by sophomore Melissa Azzarito.

When all of these characters converge at Worthing’s country home one weekend, the women find themselves in a battle for Ernest’s affection, while the two “Ernests” attempt to win the hearts of their beloveds. Thus, chaos and confusion ensue, bringing with it a few more preposterous characters and predicaments, including Lady Augusta Bracknell played by senior Pearl Mass, Miss Laetitia Prism played by sophomore Sydney Lotz and Dr. Frederick Chasuble played by sophomore Nicholas Lemus.

The play revolves around plotlines of lover entanglements, mistaken identities, secret engagements and other ludicrous situations the characters become involved in. Yet, while remaining comedic and light-hearted throughout, it introduces themes of societal image in the Victorian era and how far people would go to escape its rigid standards. The ways in which both Algernon and Worthing utilize the alter ego of Ernest to escape the constraints placed on them as upper members of Victorian society demonstrate this.

Drama teacher Melody Hertzfeld directed the play, while senior Emma Kaufman designed the costumes. The play was composed of three acts set in 1890s London. Act 1 took place in Algernon’s flat, Act 2 in the garden of the manor house and Act 3 in the drawing room of the manor house. With one 15-minute intermission, the play was approximately three hours in length.

According to the cast, the play was a pleasure to work on, as well as a challenging and enlightening experience that allowed them to interact with a group of talented and dedicated individuals.

“Working on ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ I had the chance to experience a whole new style of theater, one that I haven’t had much experience with before,” Harris said. “I got to work on my British dialect, which is always fun to do, and I had an amazing time doing so with such a talented cast and crew.”

However, while a rewarding and enjoyable experience, cast members faced difficulties, particularly with comprehending the outdated language and engaging the audience while speaking it.

“Working on the play was so much fun but also so tiring,” Mass said. “Since the play is set in the 1800s, the language is a bit difficult to understand. We had to work extra hard to first learn what we were even talking about, and then how to execute it in a realistic and entertaining way.”

Upon completing both performances of the play, many of the cast and crew members felt they did exceptionally well.

“I think the play went wonderfully, more than expected,” Mass said. “The cast was worried that the audience wouldn’t enjoy a classic or wouldn’t understand the jokes, but the audience was great, and we were able to play off of them during our performance.”

With the first play of this school year having been such a success, onlookers and actors alike look forward to future productions. The spring musical, “Head Over Heels,” is set to be performed on Thursday, March 9 and Friday, March 10.

This story was originally published in the December 2022 Eagle Eye print edition.