Misunderstandings and romance in celebrated Oscar Wilde comedy The Importance Of Being Earnest

PUBLISHED: 14:00 20 January 2018

The Importance Of Being Ernest cast. Picture: Jay Brooks

The Importance Of Being Ernest cast. Picture: Jay Brooks

Jay Brooks

Oscar Wilde’s witty comedy The Importance Of Being Earnest will be performed in Bath.

The funny play about misunderstandings, identity and romance will star Gwen Taylor (Coronation Street, Duty Free) as the formidable Lady Bracknell.

In the play, Jack wishes to marry his best friend’s cousin Gwendolen, but unbeknown to her, he is living a double life between the country and the city.

While visiting Gwendolen in the countryside he is known by his real name Jack.

When he returns to London, he pretends he is going to look after his made-up, troublesome brother Earnest – but once in the city, he assumes that identity for himself.

Jack’s friend Algernon decides to join him in the countryside, posing as his brother Earnest, while Jack has to convince Lady Bracknell he is respectable, despite starting his life abandoned in a handbag at Victoria Station.

Town and country manners clash as Algernon and Cecily, and Jack and Gwedolen, try to forge relationships out of the misunderstandings and confusion.

The play was first performed in 1895, and is a satire of Victorian social obligations.

Its witty dialogue and farcical plot have made it Wilde’s most popular play, though it also marked the beginning of the end of his career.

Soon after the play was performed, Wilde unwisely pursued a libel case following accusations about his sexual acts with men, which was a crime at the time.

He was imprisoned and died three years after his release.

Thomas Howes, who played a footman in Downton Abbey, will play Algernon, while renowned theatre star Kerry Ellis will play Gwendolen, with the exception of two dates.

Ellis is best known for her theatre roles and being the first British actress to take on the role of Elphaba in Wicked on the West End and Broadway.

The Importance Of Being Earnest will be performed at the Royal Theatre Bath from February 27 to March 3.

Shows will be on February 27 and 28 at 7.30pm, and on March 1-3 at 8pm.

There will also be 2.30pm matinees on February 28, March 1 and March 3.

Tickets, priced £19.50-35.50, are available from www.theatreroyal.org.uk or 01225 448844.

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