I asked many of them "Why? What don't you 'get'"? They responded that everyone in the play was "crazy" or "dumb", or "the plot just went in circles" or "why doesn't anyone make sense" or "nothing happens"! Usually, students need to be talked down from believing these types of answers, but actually, I was pleased these were the responses. That is exactly what it means! The play is supposed to be about the rich, Victorian English society and it's many rules, regulations, petty arguments, and ridiculous beliefs. The fact that the students were able to see that was right on cue...they just didn't think that's what they were supposed to see.
It also raises a bigger question about literature always having to "mean" something, or there has to be something to "get". Literature is often full of symbols, true, but it's rarely designed to be a mystery story. In fact, the story only ever exists when the reader is actively reading, interpreting, and analyzing. It's like that powdered cheese that comes with Easy Mac. It's not complete with water (or the reader) in this case. Unlike powdered cheese, however, literature varies in form, meaning, scope, and enjoyment based entirely on the viewer. Sometimes there's not a mystery to figure out. Sometimes it's just the quotes along the way. Sometimes it's just the overall tone. Sometimes, it's the plot, but often, the only thing to get in the story is...whatever you decided to take from it.
Of course I can't blame the students for this line of thinking. It is the basis of all English standardized tests. On the exams, students have to read abstract passages in which they must figure out the secret meaning of the text in order to answer the multiple-choice questions. Students are forced to abandon their better judgement in order to get something which, for them may not even be there. The advantage to seniors is that these tests are in the past and hopefully we can start to repair the damage.
So the next time you read something and think "what does it secretly mean"? Stop. You're asking the wrong question. In fact, there is no question. It is what it is.