ex news 

Text of article from The Courier News newspaper
April 18, 2008  

Art imitates human nature in 'Lady Windermere's Fan'

Vex Theatre, a Chicago-area drama company, will bring Victorian-era theater to modern audiences when it performs Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde, opening today at the Elgin Art Showcase.

When Lady Windermere discovers her husband may be having an affair, she confronts him, but he invites the other woman, Mrs. Erlynne, to her birthday ball. An angry Lady Windermere decides to leave her husband for another lover, but the plot twists unexpectedly.

Cathleen Ann, president of Vex Theatre who plays the role of Mrs. Erlynne, said the theater company chose the play because of its modern themes.

"Oscar Wilde is a very modern voice, which was very popular in America," Ann said. "The characters say things in a much more elegant and witty way, but it is very modern language and he is a very quotable author. He had a very modern voice dealing with problems in society today. Our issues deal with trust and what society thinks about Lady Windermere's husband. These issues are relevant today also, which is why it is such a hit.

"It is dramatic and funny -- you get a bit of both. There is something for everybody. It is a very fast-moving play," she said.

The theme in Lady Windermere's Fan is similar to Wilde's other works, which delved into human nature and scandals during the Victorian era. Wilde is better known for his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, a story about Jack Worthing, a man who leads a responsible life as a landowner and justice of the peace but flees his duties to lead a more "worldly" life in London.

Vex Theatre's Artistic Director Rich Geiger said the moral of Lady Windermere's Fan is trust and love triumph over gossip. It is a story of a woman who doubts her husband's love, but in the end, love wins.

"It is actually very modern even though it is 100 years old," Geiger said. "There are a lot of sensibilities that haven't changed that much. It touches on trust, suspicion and gossip. A lot of the language is very elegant and beautiful, language that is very rich and full and witty. It isn't antique in any way. It is for anyone who likes good theater."

Peter Rasey, who plays Lord Darlington, is acting in his first play with Vex Theatre.

"It is a fascinating story," Rasey said. "Something that is so neat about any Oscar Wilde piece is that it satirizes people who are obsessed with celebrity and appearances over substance -- for lack of a better word, fools, whether they are rude or sentimental.

"The script is very funny with lots of great one-liners and zingers. Even though people might think it is an old play, it still is very understandable, humorous and has great parallels to the modern day."

Rasey said one benefit of acting in the play is getting to portray a certain kind of character.

"Any time people get to play or speak Oscar Wilde in dialogue," he said, "it is just so fun because you feel so clever and witty and sophisticated -- whether or not you are in real life."

If you go:
What: Vex Theatre Company's production of Lady Windermere's Fan
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, April 18-27
Where: Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., Elgin
Cost: $15 general admission and $12 for students and seniors
On the Net: www.vextheatre.org