This show may be watched in its entirety at: https://youtu.be/-FvJ8Sm0S-c
Falls Church High School
Are you fascinated by the lives of 19th century English aristocrats? Do you enjoy classic farces, complete with overbearing parents and double identities? Do you hate the name "Jack?" If so, you're in for a Wilde ride at Chantilly High School's The Importance of Being Earnest!
Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest explores the crisscrossed lives of friends Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing, who assume alter egos for social and romantic reasons. The play premiered in London in 1895, and its popularity has eclipsed any other of Wilde's plays. Its cleverness, satisfying resolution, and witty satire of Victorian high society have charmed generations of readers and secured a place for it in the world of English literature. Chantilly presented the first 30 minutes of its full-length production of The Importance of Being Earnest, but this limited time was still more than enough for the students to shine.
At the heart of Chantilly's play was remarkable acting from the cast. Every actor demonstrated sophistication and talent in their detailed performances. Lila York's portrayal of Lady Bracknell, the snobby mother of Worthing's fianceé, was extremely energetic, with unwavering accent work and overexaggerated inflection. York clearly understood the role she was playing and the show she was in; her manner of speaking was exactly what is expected from a farce. Maura Pelczynski, in the role of Algernon, also made her mark. Pelczynski brought an air of confidence, a trait well suited for her cynical character who thought he knew best. Rounding out the core cast were lovers Jack and Gwendolen, played respectively by Aidan Ramee and Emily McGinley. Ramee masterfully encapsulated his character's nervousness, first when hiding a secret from Algernon and then when preparing to propose to Gwendolen. Hesitations, glances, and stutters all found a place in Ramee's toolbox, and they all felt natural and authentic in execution. McGinley also showed off her acting chops with a comfortability that clearly communicated the time she had put into the show. This couple also impressed with their stage business. While Algernon and Lady Bracknell were conversing, Ramee and McGinley stayed sharply in character, which is no easy feat while filming alone at home. The actors in The Importance of Being Earnest effortlessly brought Wilde's words and characters to life, becoming the socialites they were cast as.
Like any show, Chantilly's The Importance of Being Earnest could not have found its success without strong technical elements. Most remarkable was stage management by Stephi Shraga and Molly Shear. They gave cues to actors on standby to join the Google Meet call the show was recorded on. The precision with which actors made their entrances was incredible, and it's owed to the endeavors of these two backstage workers. Small visual details also made for excellent touches. The name displayed on each of the actors' Google Meet squares was that of the character, and they also had profile pictures which corresponded to their roles. Additionally, the actors all had the same image in the background of their frame. This clarified that the characters were interacting with each other in the same room and created a sense of cohesion.
The Importance of Being Earnest at Chantilly High School did justice to the classic script. Although only 30 minutes were presented at this special preview, the performance promised a full-length show just as fun and immersive. The "earnest" work of Chantilly's students paid off!
Falls Church High School
Chantilly High School's The Importance of Being Earnest provided the unequivocal answer to those missing the energy brought forth by the stage in these less than ideal times. With a well-rounded cast of actors and actresses putting forth explicit attention to detail and character work, The Importance of Being Earnest is sure to thaw even the coldest of theatre critics' hearts.
The play follows two protagonists, the bored and the wealthy Algernon Moncrieff and Jack Worthing as they attempt to court their beloveds. With a fantastical narrative farce that draws us into the unyielding standards of the wealthy Victorian era, it asks us to look beneath the tailored coattails of the world's inhabitants and into the motivations and dreams of its protagonists.
The entire show was done in one take, an impressive feat when taking into account the possible limitations of virtual acting. If it was a challenge for the performers to master, they hid it well. Special attention was taken to the continuity of prop placement, giving the illusion of movement throughout the show. Stage managers Stephi Shraga and Molly Shear perfected seamless scene transitions and sound cues, allowing further immersion for the audience. It was easy to forget the actors were not in the same room together. Each actor was clearly engrossed in the story, reacting and remarking with exceptional speed and congruence with the rest of their performers while showcasing a professionalism above their age.
Maura Pelczynski in the role of Algernon brought immediate legitimacy to her character, evoking so much energy and wit into the small screen. She performed with the practiced ease of someone twice her age. As Algernon pulled Jack into the high staked refinery of the upper echelon in Victorian society, they magnetized the audience with their humor and sophistication. Perfectly toeing the line between disinterest and vapid curiosity Pelczynski never faulted in her performance, showing full investment to her character. Jack Wolff as Lane, their butler and right-hand man, held a quiet sort of observant ingenuity next to the flamboyant Algernon.
Charisma and chemistry were on full display between Aidan Ramee and Emily McGinley in the roles of Jack and Gwendolen respectively. Ramee wonderfully captured the hapless pining of Jack, endowing his performance with an underlying charm that immediately drew him sympathetically into the unfolding story. McGinley showed remarkable class and elegance, demonstrating Gwendolen's well-read vocabulary while never compromising her character's more frivolous convictions.
Lila York as the opulent Lady Bracknell added immensely to the comicality and refinement of her character. Bracknell's pretentious beliefs encapsulated the rigorous standards of upper-class Victorian society, while still allowing for levity and spectacle in her interpretation.
Chantilly High School's The Importance of Being Earnest brought us into the high staked world of Victorian society. With a cast of self-concerning characters delivering a pointed satire regarding the priorities of the wealthy, they were able to create an ensemble of captivating farce that will resonate with all classes.