The Importance of Being Ernest: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

Ernest For those of you who have just tuned in, I went to Britain and came back. While I was there I wedged in as much theater as I possibly could. Clearly reviews must be written!

We went to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square the first day we arrived and picked up half-price tickets for The Importance of Being Ernest on impulse. It was that or The Pajama Game, and my husband is easily overdosed with musicals. This production is an oddity — a play within a play, the central one being the Oscar Wilde drama you are thinking about when you read the title. The bookending drama is a simple one, an ageing company of players restaging the classic.

One can hardly fail with Wilde, and so the liqueur cherry in the center of this chocolate is yummy in all the proper ways. The outer casing, however, is not quite right. If you have ever seen Noises Off you know how it ought to be. The play on the outside should be no less of a drama: characters, conflict, an arc, all complete and dovetailing neatly and tightly with the play on the inside — commenting on it, reflecting it, supplying a new angle. The bonbon should be a perfect combination, the cherry in the middle and the dark chocolate encasing it.

And in this Importance falls short. The bookending drama is barely worthy of the name; the players’ troubles are vestigial and mildly amusing but no more, and for want of conflict there is no proper conclusion. The thing just ends when Wilde’s play ends. It is as if the playwright lost interest in the chocolate outside, distracted by the delectable booziness of Wilde’s original script in the cherry center. However the cast and production are otherwise dandy (have a look at that set!) and we enjoyed it.




About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


The Importance of Being Ernest: A Very Short Review — 2 Comments

  1. Why have a bookending drama at all, if they’re not going to bookend the whole thing? What a curious choice. Glad Ernest itself satisfied.

    Did you get to the Globe?

  2. I cannot imagine what the creators were thinking of, but it is I suppose one way to retread one of the greats. Wilde after all does not lend itself to a punk-rock interpretation, or nude casting, or putting all the actors into blue jeans.
    We did get to the Globe! A review is scheduled!!