We’re going back 122 years for today’s classic: Oscar Wilde’s trivial farce for serious people: The Importance of Being Earnest.
Wilde’s most popular play has an awful lot going on for a play that doesn’t really seem to be about anything, so I’ll try to summarize it as best I can: Jack is a fine upstanding man in the country, but a dandy-ish libertine called Ernest when he’s in London. He wants to marry his best friend’s, cousin in London, whilst his best friend wants to meet Jack’s attractive young guardian back in the country. His best friend pretends to be Ernest, Jack pretends to be Ernest, both women like each version of Ernest, yet no-one is called Ernest, and somehow an interfering mother gets to say,
“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness”.
Which is just about the most memorable joke in the world isn’t it?
Wilde might have satirised Victorian society in the Importance of Being Earnest, but that’s not really relevant these days is it? What’s relevant today is Wilde’s brilliant wit – still funny after all these years.
So what do you think? Have you read it? Did you like it? Would you recommend it?
Let me know in the comments!