"Ernest" sets you to laugh your heart out

Nowadays, it may be scarce to find a girl who loves a guy mainly for his name – except in Santa Monica College's new play, "The Importance of Being Ernest," hosted and put on by the SMC theater department.


"The Importance of Being Ernest" is the classic comedy by Oscar Wilde that tells the story behind, well, the importance of said name. First performed in 1895, the comedy has been done countless times over and has even been adapted to film.


Set in London circa 1895, the play's synopsis is of two men caught in a hilarious predicament of having falsely led the ladies in their lives to believe each one of them is named Ernest. In reality, the male character's names are Jack and Algernon, but have created this persona of "Ernest" when they travel to and from the city and country.


When Jack and Algernon propose to each of the ladies in their lives (Gwendolyn and Cecily), the women think they're marrying an Ernest. One scene shows Cecily and Gwendolyn thinking they're marrying the same man. Suspecting their new fiancé of infidelity leads to a silly encounter over tea.


The part of Gwendolyn's mother, Lady Bracknell, is Jason Millward who adds to the laughs throughout the play. A rather large "lady," Millward's voice shifts from a high-pitched squeak to a baritone voice that had one of the louder reactions from the audience.


The rest of the cast's witty lines and exaggerated tones make the play entertaining. However, some parts border on trying too hard to be funny. The accents and lines at times also come off obnoxious.  However it's not long until something else happens that redeems the play and makes you forget the minor things.


The play's overall humor is based on laughing at the characters, more so than laughing with them. It's done intentionally though, given the absurdity and overdramatic personas of each of the characters.


The storyline unravels with many twists and funny dilemmas. The cast does a good job, and each of the characters' lines delivers some amount of wit throughout the play.


Attention is required to understand exactly what's going on and why the characters do what they do, but once you catch on, it's fun to see it play out and the storyline evolve.


All in all, "The Importance of Being Ernest" proved itself to be a success in its first performance. With a talented cast of individuals who undoubtedly put countless hours of rehearsal and effort in, the result was a taste of 1800's English humor and a good time for all in attendance.  

"The Importance of Being Ernest" will continue to run through the rest of October. Having begun last Thursday, the play will run for a total of seven shows, from Oct. 15 to Oct. 24 at the theater arts complex.