The Importance of Being Earnest, Outdoor performance at Manor Gardens
PUBLISHED: 11:50 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 11:52 22 August 2018
Theatre company’s interpretation brings new energy to the Oscar Wilde classic.
“By persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation,” says Miss Prism in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.
Being non-existent, as the Ernest in the play is, creates even more scope for comedy, through romantic misdirection and identity confusion.
As those familiar with Wilde’s best-loved comedy play will know, Cecily and Gwendolen both want to marry a man named Ernest; as Gwendolen says, “There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence.”
Unfortunately for them both, the only Ernest in their circle is the fictional black-sheep brother of the man hoping to marry Gwendolen, Jack.
He has a responsible life in the country and is the guardian of Cecily, his pretty cousin, but often pretends that he needs to rush off somewhere to get his wicked brother out of trouble, when in fact he wants an excuse to visit his friend Algernon, Gwendolen’s cousin, in London for some fun.
During one of these visits Gwendolen arrives with her mother Lady Bracknell, who wants to check his suitability as a son-in-law, and is scandalised to hear that he has no idea who his parents are.
Farcical situations develop when Jack’s friend Algernon, knowing that Cecily is also attracted to the name Ernest, arrives at Jack’s country home claiming to be the fictional brother, just as Jack has decided to end his own pretence by announcing that Ernest has died.
After further twists and turns, accompanied by stylish witticisms, the situation is finally resolved to everyone’s satisfaction – including that of the audience.
The company staging the production, The Pantaloons, say their aim is to bring energy and playfulness back to classical theatre.
Working with few props, and with each actor playing more than one part, they retain all the Wildean wit of the play, while also introducing music, contemporary references and audience participation.
Their interpretation gives audiences a fresh and enjoyable experience of a familiar classic play.
Thursday August 30, Manor Gardens, 7pm. Audience members are advised to bring a chair and a picnic.