Photo by Pim Lin Pamela Vogel as Lady Bracknell, John Johnston as Jack, and Lindsay Ehrhardt as Gwendolen
The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde's glittering comic bauble, his last play and masterpiece (1895), gleams brighter the older it gets. I challenge anyone to name a funnier play. Classical Theatre Company's production sets off sparks of its own, but doesn't quite approach the Tiffany setting this unique jewel so richly deserves.
Wilde subtitled his delightful comedy "a trivial play for serious people," and this eminent Victorian did not disappoint. G.B. Shaw, reviewing the premiere, enviously called it "froth without pith." It is all that, and more. Written as if with a needle, Earnest skewers the posh upper classes with a dismissive wave of the hand. The implicit irony is thick, but it's handled like master chief Escoffier whipping up the silkiest of cream. Wilde beats his 19th century audience about the head with the lightest and funniest velvet gloves. No comedy before or since has been so trivial, yet so chock full of meaning. Artifice, just as Wilde himself so desperately desired to live it to its fullest, is raised to high art.