LISLE – With Victorian-era attire and British accents, Lisle High School students will show the comedic side of what happens when love meets deception through an adaptation of a classic play this month.
This year’s fall play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” written by Oscar Wilde, will be staged at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 to 23 in the Lisle High School auditorium.
Sheryl Alkevicius, director of the fall play, said the play mocks Victorian England society, but that students are applying a modern twist to relate it to people of all ages.
“It’s a play that you can apply to any generation at any time, especially in a time when society rules are always changing,” Alkevicius said. “And I think it’s really funny.”
Jack Worthing, played by sophomore Thomas Modaff and senior Ryan Zurek, is a landowner responsible for a number of tenants, farmers, servants and other employees. But he often plays an alternate personality by posing as a fake brother, Ernest Worthing.
When Jack Worthing falls in love with Gwendolen Fairfax, played by freshmen Erin Spangler and Destany Hahn, he cannot reveal his true name, as Fairfax will only marry someone with the name Ernest.
Jack Worthing’s best friend, Algernon Moncrieff, played by senior Nate Birkett, soon falls in love with Cecily Cardew, played by sophomore Analiza May. Jack Worthing is a guardian to Cardew, who has become interested in Ernest Worthing based on stories she hears. So, Moncrieff also poses as Ernest Worthing when he meets Cardew. The secret identities are not maintained for long.
“The women find out and hilarity ensues,” Alkevicius said. “The entire play the men are lying, so Oscar Wilde is again making fun of the fact that they are named Ernest, which spelled ‘earnest’ means truthful.”
Alkevicius said about 30 to 40 students are involved in the play. In addition to the cast, students took charge of other aspects of the play, including sets, scenery, lights, props and makeup. Students also had to research the proper costumes and British accents specific that era, Alkevicius said.
Students began rehearsing for the play in September, meeting three times a week. Stage manager Ryan Wood, a senior and resident of Lisle, has been involved in previous fall plays and spring musicals, but said this year’s fall play is unique.
“It’s humor that you really have to think about to understand and it’s really funny once you do,” he said. “The last few years we have done slapstick humor, but this is more about the frivolity of the lifestyle back then and the funny things people did.”
Wood said he is looking forward to seeing the play in action, as the students involved “are all like one, big family.”
Shows are $3 for students and seniors and $5 for adults, except for the first show, which is free.
Alkevicius said she enjoys seeing the hard work the students put in to produce the play and the pride on their faces when they take a bow at the end of each show.
“They learn about theater and each other and become a family at the same time,” Alkevicius said.