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Secrets and social constraints between men and women are at the forefront of CCM’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan

Review by Jenifer Moore of “Lady Windermere’s Fan”: CCM Acting

If you are looking for a night on the town that will leave you doubling over in laughter, then look no further than the UC’s College-Conservatory of Music’s season opener for Acting, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” at the Patricia Corbett Theater. Secrets, social status and gender politics are at play in this production as Lady Windermere, dubbed a “good girl” by society, prepares to celebrate her birthday with a lavish party.

The production opens with a lively conversation between Lady Windermere and an acquaintance, Lord Darlington, that sets the satirical tone for the duration of the roughly 130-minute show. As the duo–played effortlessly by Zoe Cotzias and Cameron Nalley–debate the virtues of 19th-century social acceptability, the Duchess of Berwick arrives in exquisite high fashion with the gossip that will rock Lady Windermere’s world–allegations that her husband is unfaithful. What’s more, after seemingly discovering evidence of her husband’s deceit, Lady Windermere is forced to welcome the alleged mistress in her home on a night that should be devoted to celebrating her coming of age. Far too many twists and turns soon follow on this journey of high society respectability politics that’s complete with perfectly timed comedic quips.

CCM’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s first theatrical success is amazing as the actors really dig into their roles. It is evident from their carefully crafted accents to the emotive expressions of the script that director, Susan Felder and Sammi Grant as dialect coach ensured accuracy of the British language of the time. One of the best scenes in the play is the birthday ball where each of the students brings strength to their roles with so many hijinks that it is hard to keep up!

Scenic designer Lindsey Purvis made me feel as if I were in a true 19th-century Victorian home with the interchangeable sets comprised of heavy oak furniture and a beautiful antique writing desk: think floor-to-ceiling curtains and two Greek-like columns. Similarly, Christa Hanks’s use of petticoats, bustles and ornately designed dresses perfectly complemented the cast.

There is a huge secret as the fallout from Lord Windermere’s alleged infidelity takes place following the birthday ball. It will leave you not only shocked but a tad dismayed at how the societal rules of the time in regards to women have life-changing consequences. It’s safe to say that while some things have changed, others have been modernized in today’s culture. It will be up to you as the viewer to determine what. “Lady Windemere’s Fan” is a fantastic, satirical ride. And this is a ride that you surely want to buy a ticket for.

“Lady Windermere’s Fan” runs until Oct 6 at the University of Cincinnati College of Conservatory Music Patricia Corbett Theater. Tickets can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at (513)556-4183.