[93], The genre of the Importance of Being Earnest has been deeply debated by scholars and critics alike who have placed the play within a wide variety of genres ranging from parody to satire. Freed from "living up to any drama more serious than conversation" Wilde could now amuse himself to a fuller extent with quips, bons mots, epigrams and repartee that really had little to do with the business at hand. Odyssey Opera was able to obtain the manuscript from the Library of Congress with the permission of the composer’s granddaughter. Jack: Yes, it was... [makes gestures] Jack: an ordinary handbag.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest Its cast included William Faversham as Algy, Henry Miller as Jack, Viola Allen as Gwendolen, and Ida Vernon as Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell: Found? Lots more … [19], The play's original Broadway production opened at the Empire Theatre on 22 April 1895, but closed after sixteen performances. He defends himself against her "A handbag?" She accepts, but seems to love him in large part because of his name, Ernest. Box Office: 01223 50333312pm - 8pm Monday to Saturday (inc. Bank Holidays). Wilde spent the summer with his family at Worthing, where he wrote the play quickly in August. [129], BBC television transmissions of the play have included a 1974 Play of the Month version starring Coral Browne as Lady Bracknell with Michael Jayston, Julian Holloway, Gemma Jones and Celia Bannerman. Canon Chasuble, D.D. 1895).[67]. Algernon has a close friend named Jack Worthing (Colin Firth), a self-made man who acts as a ward to his cousin, a beautiful young lady named Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). How I used to toy with that Tiger Life. The Importance of Being Earnest has been revived many times since its premiere. For I feel that you are sure to change. Some consider the three-act structure more effective and theatrically resonant than the expanded published edition. Though unsure of Wilde's seriousness as a dramatist, they recognised the play's cleverness, humour and popularity with audiences. ", in the same way that "Is he so?" Nonsense, absolute nonsense: I would have known". [12] The largest cut was the removal of the character of Mr. Gribsby, a solicitor who comes from London to arrest the profligate "Ernest" (i.e., Jack) for unpaid dining bills. [61][62][63][64][65][66], The play is set in "The Present" (i.e. [71] In Victorian times earnestness was considered to be the over-riding societal value, originating in religious attempts to reform the lower classes, it spread to the upper ones too throughout the century. 1069912.Registered Office: 6 St Edward’s Passage, Cambridge CB2 3PJ VAT Registration No. [1] His fame now at its peak, he used the working title Lady Lancing to avoid preemptive speculation of its content. Other songs include 'A Bunburying I Must Go'. Jack produces the very same handbag, showing that he is the lost baby, the elder son of Lady Bracknell's late sister, and thus Algernon's elder brother. Jack accordingly resolves to himself to be rechristened "Ernest". JACK: Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Meanwhile, Algernon's cousin, Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor), arrives for the weekend, and is startled to discover Jack is also there -- except that she knows him as bad-boy Earnest. As Jack gives her his address in the country, Algernon surreptitiously notes it on the cuff of his sleeve: Jack's revelation of his pretty and wealthy young ward has motivated his friend to meet her. He arrives in full mourning and announces his brother's death in Paris of a severe chill, a story undermined by Algernon's presence in the guise of Ernest. The easiest case of a suitable translation of the pun, perpetuating its sense and meaning, may have been its translation into German. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. [123], There have been many radio versions of the play. [132], Other audio recordings include a "Theatre Masterworks" version from 1953, directed and narrated by Margaret Webster, with a cast including Maurice Evans, Lucile Watson and Mildred Natwick;[133] a 1989 version by California Artists Radio Theatre, featuring Dan O'Herlihy Jeanette Nolan, Les Tremayne and Richard Erdman;[134] and one by L.A. Theatre Works issued in 2009, featuring Charles Busch, James Marsters and Andrea Bowen. ', rapidly swallowed up with a sharp intake of breath. Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) is a slightly shady, but charming gentlemen from a wealthy family who has a bad habit of throwing his money away. [10] While much theatre of the time tackled serious social and political issues, Earnest is superficially about nothing at all. [33] The play returned to the West End when Alexander presented a revival at the St James's in 1902. "The Importance of Being Earnest Revived". The Importance of Being Earnest (4/12) Movie CLIP - Born in a … Gwendolen manages to covertly promise to him her undying love. [85] Another suggestion, put forward in 1913 by Aleister Crowley, who knew Wilde, was that Bunbury was a combination word: that Wilde had once taken a train to Banbury, met a schoolboy there, and arranged a second secret meeting with him at Sunbury. A show with a book by Douglas Livingstone and score by Adam McGuinness and Zia Moranne was staged in December 2011 at the. The cast also includes Roland Culver (Algy), Jean Cadell (Miss Prism), Pamela Brown (Gwendolen) and Celia Johnson (Cecily). Challenged, Miss Prism explains that she had absent mindedly put the manuscript of a novel she was writing in the perambulator, and the baby in a handbag, which she had left at Victoria Station. [41] Gielgud produced and starred in a production at the Globe (now the Gielgud) Theatre in 1939, in a cast that included Edith Evans as Lady Bracknell, Joyce Carey as Gwendolen, Angela Baddeley as Cecily and Margaret Rutherford as Miss Prism. [3][n 1] Wilde scholars agree the most important influence on the play was W. S. Gilbert's 1877 farce Engaged,[6] from which Wilde borrowed not only several incidents but also "the gravity of tone demanded by Gilbert of his actors". Having acquired such respectable relations, he is acceptable as a suitor for Gwendolen after all. Edith Evans, both on stage and in the 1952 film, delivered the line loudly in a mixture of horror, incredulity and condescension. Ellmann argues that the proofs show a man "very much in command of himself and of the play". The revelation of Cecily's wealth soon dispels Lady Bracknell's initial doubts over the young lady's suitability, but any engagement is forbidden by her guardian Jack: he will consent only if Lady Bracknell agrees to his own union with Gwendolen – something she declines to do. In 1892, three years before Wilde wrote the play, John Gambril Nicholson had published the book of pederastic poetry Love in Earnest. [20] The Australian premiere was in Melbourne on 10 August 1895, presented by Dion Boucicault Jr. and Robert Brough, and the play was an immediate success. Registered in England No. [94] Similarly, Wilde's use of dialogue mocks the upper classes of Victorian England lending the play a satirical tone. A Handbag?! [79], Queer scholars have argued that the play's themes of duplicity and ambivalence are inextricably bound up with Wilde's homosexuality, and that the play exhibits a "flickering presence-absence of… homosexual desire". [107] In 1992 Kurt Baker directed a version using an all-black cast with Daryl Keith Roach as Jack, Wren T. Brown as Algernon, Ann Weldon as Lady Bracknell, Lanei Chapman as Cecily, Chris Calloway as Gwendolen, CCH Pounder as Miss Prism, and Brock Peters as Doctor Chasuble, set in the United States. At the time, Victoria Station consisted of two separate but adjacent terminal stations sharing the same name. ", has been called one of the most malleable in English drama, lending itself to interpretations ranging from incredulous or scandalised to baffled. "... you are aware of the mechanism, you are aware of Sardou": Beerbohm (1970:509). Horrified to learn that he was adopted after being discovered as a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station, she refuses him and forbids further contact with her daughter.