Ruth Leon recommends…The Importance of Being Earnest – Roundabout TheatreRuth Leon recommends
The Importance of Being Earnest – Roundabout Theatre
Click here to rent
3-day rental £15+£3
This is the most recent Broadway production of Oscar Wilde’s comedic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by and starred Tony nominee Brian Bedford in his final stage performance, as Lady Bracknell.
Wilde called it The Importance of Being Ernest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People and it is my belief that, along with Noel Coward’s Private Lives, it is the most perfect example of high comedy yet written in English. I could tell you the plot but, in truth, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the style and characterisation. It’s very difficult to direct Wilde because, if the director makes one casting error, or misunderstands one of Wilde’s many subtle stylistic signposts, the entire edifice falls apart. It’s a soufflé and, like a soufflé, if it rises, it’s delicious, if it falls, it’s a catastrophe.
Brilliant, hilarious, exquisitely observed, Brian Bedford was a great actor and director who understood both the deliberate vulgarity of Wilde, and all his subtlety, and knew how to play them both with equal weight. He was an unmissable Lady Bracknell who died in 2016 and I miss him still.
The presentation is hosted by David Hyde-Pierce, and includes an intermission feature with actor Alfred Molina and professor Michael Hackett discussing the life and works of Oscar Wilde. You can fast-forward through this if you just want Bedford and the play, untrammelled. In my view, it needs no explanation but it’s here if you want it.
Read more here