Yorkshire Playhouse 2017 Season: The Importance of Being Earnest

by Mitchell Roush

What makes a classic?




This appears to be the case with Oscar Wilde’s cornerstone farce, The Importance of Being Earnest.

When a story captivates an era with a delicious blend of wit, social commentary, and love-laced hysterics--a standard of entertainment is born.  The title of “classic” arrives later when the realized art of a century ago still manages to entertain and enlighten.  Wilde’s timeless title, The Importance of Being Earnest, has, quite literally, achieved this designation.

Originally staged in 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest remains not only the most produced farce in theatre history but, also, the standard from which the romantic comedy was born.

It’s the story of two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who both create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own stories, while becoming entangled in a tale of deception, disguise and misadventure. The elaborate plot ridicules Victorian sensibilities with some of the best loved, and indeed bizarre, characters to be found on the modern stage. Wilde originally wrote it in four acts, but during the first rehearsals George Alexander persuaded him to shorten it down to three.

Packing a titan-like reputation, the likes of Oscar Wilde bring instant credibility to a season of featured entertainment.  One most certainly agrees, there’s always room on the docket for a classic.  

What makes Earnest the most beloved of Mr. Wilde’s dossier is the seamless interchangeability the characters provide for the players.  Undoubtedly, you’ve experienced a rendition of Earnest before.  We’ve grown comfortable within this all-too-familiar yet near-fantasy-type-world of the Wilde-farce.  Thus, it becomes an adventure to follow a new slew of creators in their endeavor to portray a wildly rich and delightfully hilarious romp of society that still speaks to the modern ear.


Perhaps it’s the Hugh Grant-like rom-com feel; perhaps it’s the period costumes and accents; perhaps it’s the simple understanding and familiar entertainment of a classic literary installment; or perhaps we love watching stories of love unfold.  Whatever the reasons, The Importance of Being Earnest has lived a luxuriously long life...and will most assuredly enjoy a future under the spotlight long after we’re gone.

We’re excited to see C. Danielle Deal’s interpretation of this beautiful piece of history.  
Those familiar with her work know everything she touches exudes raw creativity, refreshing approaches, and commitment to higher-quality.

An evening spent in the famed Oscar Wilde’s lovely world of farce, mistaken identity, tea-parties, and the unavoidable attraction promises to be one that is well spent.


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