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Students Samantha Colburn and Betsy Reisz playact a scene from "The Importance of Being Earnest."

Gwendolen Fairfax, played by U student Samantha Colburn, and her mother Lady Bracknell, played by Betsy Reisz, in a little tiff over Gwendolen's choice of a future husband. "The Importance of Being Earnest" runs through August 27, 2005 on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat.

Being earnest has its moments

By Pauline Oo

Published on June 18, 2005

"We live in an age of ideals... my ideal has always been to love someone by the name of Earnest," says the beautiful Gwendolen Fairfax. Ah, to know what you want, and to be able to state it so adamantly. Is that a good quality to have? Is it bad? How likely are you scare off a potential mate? How likely are you to snag one?

Bold characters--fearless in speaking their mind and not too concerned about potential backlash from friends and family--make up the cast of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," the University's theatrical production on the Minnesota Centennial Showboat in St. Paul this summer. The play, set in England during the late Victorian era (1860 to 1900), tells the tale of Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, two friends who think nothing of deceiving the people around them to get what they want. Jack wants the fair maiden Gwendolen, while Algernon desires the dreamy but clever Cecily Cardew.

The student actors were convincing in their roles, each speaking the Queen's English to near perfection and having the right facial expressions to boot. One University of Minnesota Showboat Player, Betsy Reisz, stood out for her ability to portray the middle-aged, very proper and money-hungry Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen's darling mother. The play was helped along, too, by a simple yet visually attractive set. U alum Rick Polenek and his team of student scenic designers did a two-thumbs up job with well-placed furniture and furnishings, and gigantic painted scrims--a garden or living room came alive despite being mere drawings on a cloth-like material.

If you go, "The Importance of Being Earnest" is sure to elicit at least one belly laugh from you. Yet be forewarned, the play is dialogue heavy. If you're tired from a long day at work, you'll find yourself sinking lower in your seat and possibly stifling yawns. If you're not used to British accents, you may have to ask your neighbor what you missed. But overall, "Earnest" has its moments--and one of the best ones comes at the end.

The play, which is directed by University alumnus Jon Cranney, runs through August 27. Tickets cost from $15 to $20. Evening performances are 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; matinee performances are 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. To buy your ticket, call the Padelford Packet Boat Co. at 651-227-1100 or see the 2005 Showboat play.

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