A trivial comedy for serious people. What happens when two wealthy playboys—one in the city (Charlie Gallant), one in the country (Ryan Beil)—each pretends to be named Ernest so that he can behave recklessly without besmirching his reputation? In this hilarious Oscar Wilde comedy of manners, arguably the wittiest play in the English canon, pandemonium ensues when the duplicitous duo find themselves together, both masquerading as the same person, with each wooing a different woman!
Director David Mackay, a fixture of the Vancouver theatre scene—as an actor, director, and playwright—calls The Importance of Being Earnest “line for line, the funniest play written in the English language.”
Mackay adds, “I believe part of the playing of the piece—whose subtitle is ‘A Trivial Comedy for Serious People’— is to investigate playing the serious subject matters, such as the institution of marriage, friendships, child/parent relationships, with the utmost triviality, and the trivial subjects, like losing your cigarette case, choosing where to eat, and what to read for leisure, with paramount urgency. In other words: sweat the little stuff, and treat important matters in the most blasé manner. I think we always run the risk of taking life far too seriously. Thankfully, with this great comedic cast, we hope to take the piss out of that.”
Oscar Wilde, an eminent writer of the late Victorian age, is often touted as a master of the English epigram; his pithy remarks, in speech and writing, are often quoted as examples of intelligent and incisive wit. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)—the work from his oeuvre most often performed today—is full of just such quotable turns of phrase. As light hearted and humorous as they can be, some of his witty comments are social critiques of the received wisdom of conservative aristocratic society.