The Importance of Being Earnest

Upper Secondary Drama took on the classic parlor comedy by Oscar Wilde last school year.

The team really brought the witty drama to life on stage at the Neues Schauspiel Theatre. The snooty tone, the puns and the word play made it a delight to watch and by the looks of it a delight to perform.

The Importance of Being Earnest was first performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London. Due to the lifestyle of Oscar Wilde and his reputation, it was only performed 86 times before it was cancelled. It has been heralded as Wilde’s finest work but also noted as being the beginning of his downfall.

We as a group quickly identified the homoerotic undertones in the work and relationships between the characters. It was very clear to us that Wilde was highlighting the difficulty for many people in the Victorian era of certain sexual orientations and the measures many of them had to go through to just be themselves. There was hiding, secret meetings and identity changes in Wilde’s life and this was what he was alluding to when he wrote the piece.

The group also found that each of the characters represent one of the seven deadly sins, from Algernon’s greed to Lady Bracknell’s wrath. We have tried to highlight these symbols in our presentation of the show.

It was also apparent to us that Wilde was poking fun at the upper classes, a class into which he born. We feel that he really couldn’t abide the hypocrisy within the upper echelons of society at the time, and by writing the play was trying to distance himself from it.

This play was a challenge for us but, as a comedy, a lot of fun. We hope you enjoyed watching it as much as we have enjoyed rehearsing it.

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