The Importance of Being Earnest
Dundee Rep, Tue 29 Apr–Sat 3 May
There are times when we all wish we had a legitimate excuse to avoid that dreaded visitor, awkward social engagement, or stifling family party. We continue to stay in touch with people we really don’t like, when life would be so much simpler if we had the courage to choose to live without them. But it is this attitude of responsibility to people, however bad they make us feel, that keeps us in touch with Oscar Wilde’s 19th century Britain.
Middle Ground Theatre Company’s production of Wilde’s oft-performed comedy of love and deception, stars TV favourite Tony Britton as venerable reverend Canon Chasuble. Having played both Wilde’s young ‘bunburyists’ Algernon and Jack during his career, Britton’s admiration for the work is clear; he points out the contemporary resonance of the play. ‘It’s extraordinary because it might have been written yesterday, the writing is so economical, straight to the point, and the wit is so perfectly poised, you almost don’t have to act it really.’
With so many different productions each year, it has to be wondered what this play has that makes audiences keep coming back for more. Will this particular Earnest top them all? Full of praise though Britton is for this production, he insists that’s not the point. ‘They come out laughing, that’s all. There’s no highly important philosophy to be drawn from it, you just enjoy a very funny play, and come out with a smile on your face.’