Monday, February 3, 2014

Wilde, Oscar (The Importance of Being Earnest)

The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes today. It's not as if Britain has stopped making jokes about class and culture, right?

Wilde certainly had a talent for farce - for that brand of ridiculous that is not supposed to have any bearing on reality. It teases reality, but sits soundly outside it. The great thing about farce is that you begin reading with that assumption - that nothing is real - and consequently it's all about the words and the plot. Since you can't take it seriously, this frees you up to enjoy the English language at its finest (and silliest).

I especially liked how Wilde created female characters the equal of the male characters. They are equally silly as well as equally eloquent. I would think the role of the "mother-in-law" would be a plum one for any well-established British Dame. In fact, can't you see Maggie Smith playing this in its next incarnation?

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