I was able to see a great performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I had seen a production of this play once before at my high school, where American teenagers were hysterically engaging in witty banter in period costumes and British accents. I have very fond memories of that production, so I was excited to see an authentically British performance of the play.
We were able to get the cheapest seats possible with bench seating (which was honestly on one of the nicest benches I’ve seen). The main discount seemed to be because of the dizzying location of the seating, as these were the highest seats in the theatre, and thus you were essentially peering down at the the actors far below you. But as this was more of a play of verbal wit, and the actors could still be heard, the odd viewing angle wasn’t too much of a disadvantage.
The play itself was quite good. The costuming was amazing, and the acting was great. I really enjoyed Lady Brackwell’s performance, especially her outrage over Ernest’s handbag heritage. Cecily’s frank discussion regarding her fictitious relationship with Ernest was also hysterical, as was her flip-flopping sentiments towards Gwendolen. Algernon’s misadventures and fondness for food was also quite humorous. While the actual problem at hand is a bit odd by today’s standards, and the ending is a rather convenient one, the play still holds up very well over 100 years later.
While it’s hard to compare watching a professional production with the fondness of seeing a play with many of your friends as the principal actors, the authentic British version did not disappoint. I’ve really enjoyed seeing British Theatre, and I hope to watch at least one more production before I return to the states.