By Abraham Davis
CCSF Theatre Arts Department’s latest production, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde, is full of Wilde’s trademark wit, melodrama and interesting characters to keep the audience hooked from start to finish. The play is filled with laughter and cleverness, along with an interesting plot that hosts a cast of colorful characters.
The play takes place in London during the late 1800’s, a time when a woman’s status was determined by her husband, and to divorce your husband was unheard of.
When a scandalous woman comes into the life of Lord and Lady Windermere which causes the characters to question each other’s morals and status, hilarity ensues, along with the occasional heartfelt moment.
Every character represents a different view on life during this time in history, and the play does a good job of humanizing each view while still making them ridiculous. The production comes to life with a superb set and historical costumes.
The play has appropriately come out during the beginning of Women’s History Month. It is a great way to celebrate women’s history. This is due to how the play shows how far women have come since the 1800’s and also gives some thought for how far there still is to do.
On top of this, it also supports a cast of strong leading women.
Alixandra Todd gives an incredibly strong performance as the titular character, Lady Windermere. She gives her character strong emotions mixed into a strict moral compass and is a thrill to watch on stage.
Lisa Bettini also gives a wonderful performance as The Duchess of Berwick, using Oscar Wilde’s sense of humor and wit to make her character equally charming and horrible.
In the male cast, Robert Ayala stands out as Lord Darlington, a man who is too caught up in the romance of life to take it seriously. Ayala is hilarious and entertaining, finding a balance, much like Bettini, between being incredibly likable and repugnant.
Most of the actors pull off the English dialect believably and never resort to caricature, despite almost all the characters in the show being caricatures of upper English society during the 1800’s.
Director John Wilk deems Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” the greatest comedy ever written but having already done that production in the past, wanted to give audiences Wilde’s second “masterpiece.”
“The comedy is based on sort of making fun of the society as opposed to bucking it up,” said Wilk. “In this case, it’s the struggle of the main woman to see if she will stay with her husband or not.”
Although at times the play starts to sound more like one clever remark on society after another rather than a plot-fueled narrative, it captivated me because of the cast’s great performances and John Wilk’s solid direction.
Lady Windermere’s Fan will be playing in the Diego Rivera Theatre on Friday March 9th at 7:30pm, Saturday March 10th at 7:30pm and will have the final performance on Sunday March 11th at 2pm. General admission is $15, while students, seniors and TBA members pay $10.