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The many faces of Earnest

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By Ann Mauzy

Los Alamos Little Theatre presents its final play this season, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde. On its surface, the play is about two young men and their courtship with their respective girlfriends in the time of Queen Victoria.

It was first performed in 1895 at the St. James’ Theatre in London and is part satire, part comedy of manners and part intellectual farce. Below the surface of the clever absurdities, puns, bons mots, and other epigrams, however, is an expos of the self-righteous moralism and hypocrisy at the heart of Victorian society.

As the play opens, a young man named Algernon, played by Corey New, trades quips with his manservant Lane, played by John Gustafson. The characters’ British accents, the stage set, props and costumes create the Victorian setting in an upper class London townhouse. The sophisticated dialoge tossed back and forth sets the tone of the “The Importance of Being Earnest,” often called, “the wittiest play in the English language.”