The Yellow Point Drama Group is staging Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and cast members are excited to take on a script by a writer renowned for his wit and way with words.
“The wordplay has held up surprisingly well considering how long ago it was written,” said actor Mitchell Wager of the 19th century play. “And it’s quite a joy to be a part of and try to really get the flow of this language that feels so close to English, but it feels unique.”
The Importance of Being Earnest follows two men who court two women under the same pseudonym, Ernest, resulting in the two women believing they are then engaged to the same man. The play, coming to Cedar Community Hall from Oct. 4 to 19, is also a send-up of the Victorian upper class.
“It’s just like Monty Python,” said actor Ken Heibert, referring to the early-’70s British sketch comedy program. “You derive some entertainment or pleasure out of seeing figures of authority and pompous figures held up to ridicule or at least mocked in some way.”
Director Gordon McInnis said the YPDG has been wanting to present a period piece with lavish costumes and sets for a couple years and after poring over 17th century Restoration comedies he decided on Wilde.
This is the first Wilde play for McInnis and some cast members as well. Stephanie Brossard plays Gwendolen Fairfax, love interest of Wager’s John Worthing. She said The Importance of Being Earnest is one of her favourite plays and she’s excited to make her Wilde debut.
“It’s so witty. It’s just so funny and the language is really beautiful. It just flows so trippingly off the tongue,” she said. “I find the language of Oscar Wilde always to be lovely whether it’s his poetry, his stories or his plays.”
Actress Judy Hipkin has also long wanted to be in a Wilde play because of the playwright’s “stunningly wonderful” language.
“It’s so different from anything else and it’s so precise and beautiful,” she said of the script. “Every single word is placed particularly to give a particular meaning. Oscar doesn’t waste words.”
Aside from the comedy, McInnis said there’s some serious commentary in the play as well which may be overlooked.
“We come to listen to his language and his wit and his humour, but I think he had some real thoughts on relationships and marriages and family and I think that comes through when you analyze his plays more – not that we expect our audiences to analyze all this,” McInnis said. “I hope they just simply come and enjoy it, but when you dig a little deeper with Wilde I think there’s a reason why he’s still relevant today.”
WHAT’S ON … The Yellow Point Drama Group presents The Importance of Being Earnest at Cedar Community Hall, 2388 Cedar Rd., on Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12 and 18 doors at 7, show at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 19 doors at 1:30, show at 2 p.m. and doors at 7, show at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $20 at the door or online.