The Importance of Being Earnest: A Brief Introduction

Oscar Wilde was a well known novelist, playwright, essayist and poet in the late 19th century. He hailed from Ireland, and after many years of writing he became one of the foremost playwrights in London. His work in all forms is revered by many to this day. Some of his more enduring titles include The Picture of Dorian Gray, “The Happy Prince and Other Tales”, Salome, Lady Windermere's Fan, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

Many may have already heard of, or even seen, Oscar Wilde’s rousing comedy entitled The Importance of Being Earnest. This classic play tells the tale of one Mr. Jack Worthing, a man who leads a double life in England, circa 1929*. He lives in the country, but spends much of his time in the city with his brother Ernest. Little do his country friends know, Jack himself poses as Ernest Worthing while in the city and in fact has no brother at all. This double life works quite well for Jack, that is until his city-dwelling friend Algernon decides to take a new name of his own and come to the country, posing as the previously nonexistent brother Ernest Worthing.

Add to the mix these colorful characters: Lady Bracknell, a huge London personality and mother of Gwendoline Fairfax--Jack’s beloved city girl. Cecily Cardew, Jack’s ward and the object of Algernon’s fascination. A bumbling but sincere Reverend Canon Chasuble, who is also in love with Cecily’s tutor, Miss Prism. Hilarity ensues when Jack and Algernon’s respective love interests cross paths, old secrets are uncovered and they must both discover the importance of being earnest.

*Time period updated by the director for this performance. Original year was 1895.