Written by Daniella Litvak
The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde’s Victorian era farce about how Jack Worthing, a respectable man in the country, felt the need to invent a wicked alter ego (“Ernest”), so he could escape his dutiful country life and have wild sexy fun in London. Jack as Ernest has fallen in love and proposed to Gwendoline Fairfax. She accepted because it has been her dream to marry a man named Ernest. (The name inspires “utmost confidence.”) Unfortunately, Gwendolne’s Mother, Lady Bracknell, does not approve of the match. Meanwhile, Jack’s friend, who is also Gwendoline’s cousin, Algernon Moncreif decided to borrow the Ernest persona in order to meet Cecily Cardew, Jack’s ward who also dreams of marrying a man named Ernest (for the same reason). Hilarity ensues.
This is “A” material. However, Eric Modyman’s director’s notes betray some anxiety about staging a comedy of manners originally written during a time period infamous for its fussiness. I have to admit to sharing a similar anxiety. Too many times, I’ve had to witness stagings and adaptations transform some of the greatest comedies ever written (Austen, Dickens, etc) into a dry, dull snooze fest. Continue Reading