The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

  • Genre Drama
  • Stage Drama Theatre
  • Premiere20. December 2003
  • Length2:30 hod.
  • Number of reprises61
  • Final performance4. June 2008

Conversation Comedy

The conversation comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the best English plays, is also the most successful and wittiest plays written by Oscar Wilde. Already the premiere of the play presented in 1895 was accepted with enthusiasm and since then, it has always been a part of the repertoire of the world theatres. In an amusing geyser of intelligent wittiness of all the characters from a servant to a gentleman, the voice of the playwright himself can be heard, as he used to be a London dandy, master of sarcasm, language fencing and easy spirit.

This conversation comedy, one of the best of its kind, reflects the moral of the period and opinions and ideas common for the upper class of the Victorian England at the end of the century. The play will be directed by Jana Kališová, a successful director of many comedies, who has already directed plays such as The Parasite; Love’s Labour’s Lost and Mourning Becomes Electra in the Brno City Theatre.

 

Author

  • Oscar Wilde

Directed by

Translation

  • Jiří Zdeněk Novák

Costumes

Dramaturgist

Music

  • Dan Fikejz

John Worthing

Algernon Moncrieff

Lady Bracknellová

Gvendolina Fairfaxová

Důstojný pán Chasuble

Slečna Prismová

Merriman, komorník

Wilde’s Earnest Has a Pretty Portion of Wit in Brno

Jiří P. Kříž 20. February 2004 zdroj Právo

One of the most ingenious comedic texts unclassifiable in any genre, a solitaire in the dramatic literature – this may be the only characteristic of Wilde’s most charming play The Importance of Being Earnest played with gusto in the Brno Municipal Theatre and directed by Jana Kališová.

Kališová can always shine in Brno. Last time, she stormed out the damnation of Ezra Mannon’s family in O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra in the Brno Municipal Theatre with brilliant performances of Helena Dvořáková (Lavinia), Ivana Vaňková (Hazel) and Petr Štěpán (Orin). No wonder then that two of the three actors form a basis of her newest Brno opus.

Wilde’s text proves precisely the scope and the impact of the author’s rich language and the unattainable portion of his personal wit. Although it is known what personal difficulties he had to suffer due to his minority sexual orientation throughout all his life in the prudish England.

Jana Kališová decided to please audiences with one of the wittiest conversation plays in the Brno Municipal Theatre. Surely, lovers of performers with six repeats at most will blame them but it is true that everybody has the right to study the Importance of Being Earnest nowadays. The author is no longer protected with the copyright to prevent frequent performance mistakes.

I myself admire this Wilde’s play as it has an inimitable witty story. Each scene, each reply has its point... Kališová with the dramatist Jiří Záviš managed to shorten the text markedly, to remove circumlocutions accumulated in the course of years and to drive the figures to the goal, i.e. to a multiple hope of matrimony.

Some actors “pushed a saw” too much in Brno. This is mainly true about Zdena Herfortová playing the Honourable Lady Bracknell. She seems to be everywhere and as always, her performance is sparkling, brisk and full-blooded. Eva Jelínková (Miss Prism) and Jiří Tomek (Reverend Chasuble), the latter enriching the performance with perfect facial gestures, may also boast with brisk performances.

All the four “young” figures fitted more precisely in the conversation style of the play: Viktor Skála (John Worthing) maturing dramatically as wine of the year 2003, Petr Štěpán (Algernon Moncrieff) getting better and better and enlarging his dramatic register, and mainly the two lovely young ladies - Gwendolen (Veronika Poláčková) a Cecily (Ivana Vaňková). In summary – the Brno performance has a pretty portion of wit.

Audience Succeeded with Oscar Wilde’s Brno Presentation

Luboš Mareček 14. January 2004 zdroj MF Dnes

The directress Jana Kališová mixed the Brno presentation of Wilde’s conversation comedy The Importance of Being Earnest of all what audiences like. Nice people, attractive costumes, brisk dialogues and go-ahead performances are now and then completed with catty directorial quips. So it is a pleasant entertainment packed in Oscar Wilde’s sparkling verbal didoes and paradoxes.

The creators mainly try to meet Wilde’s light style. The principals, Viktor Skála and Petr Štěpán, created prototypes of English dandies: They trump one another with bon mots about love, women and their destiny in the life of young gentlemen. Worse are the replicas of a speaking stuffed parrot.

The first thing Kališová is attracted with in Wilde’s text is his insouciance. Blathering, exaggerating and lying go with elegance. It is just the endless lying that gives the greatest pleasure to the ensemble as well as the audience.

The girlish world presented by Veronika Poláčková (Gwendolen) and Ivana Vaňková (Cecily) shows unawaken female sneakiness multiplied with pretty faces, but also simple-minded innocence and flirtation. The performance is dominated by Zdena Herfortová in the part of Lady Bracknel which all English actresses have been longing for since the first night of the performance in the year 1895.

Herfortová is a “lady at full throttle” hurling words but never losing her perfect diction. She is an acting typhoon and a venomous female shooting bitchy remarks with delight. Her performance culminates when she smashes on the stage commenting a “quite trivial ending”. The elegantly underlined banality is a full stop and essence of Kališová’s production.

Though the theatregoer who has attended the Brno Earnest is not wiser, he is surely less scowl. And this would please the dramatist himself. He replied the question if his play would be successful at the end of the nineteenth century as follows: “My play is successful. The only question is if the audience will be successful.” The present Brno audience succeeded in this respect.

Brno Municipal Theatre Actors Sparkling with Wilde’s Humour

Simona Polcarová 31. December 2004 zdroj Rovnost

The first nights of Oscar Wilde’s witty comedy The Importance of Being Earnest were planned to be held in the Brno Municipal Theatre before Christmas (December 21 a 22) and as a part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The title itself is of indisputable quality. The translator Jiří Zdeněk Novák comments its delightful text: “The Importance of Being Earnest is a play of clean style. Its action as well as dialogues are weaved from a charming, airy, but hard-wearing material.” Really. Almost each reply of any character shines as a pearl, it is just necessary to pronounce it suitably, aptly and with grace. Fortunately, the actors in a tangled web of false Earnests, foster-daughters and fiancées manage to do it perfectly. John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, two unmarried young men of higher English society, develop on stage their Bunburyist talent of having bright ideas and being somebody else for a while. And the others play the attractive peekaboo with them, although they sometimes revolt from such plots for the sake of appearance.

The guest directress Jana Kališová approaches Wilde with a due dose of feeling and respect. She lets the conversation flow brilliantly and sometimes embroiders it with a perfectly becoming joke. It is clear that smart comedies suit the directress very well (which has been already proved in Love’s Labour’s Lost or Parasite given in the Brno Municipal Thetre). Similarly, she can extract the maximum from this play without any abuse.

Kališová has found predominantly perfect performers of characters in the Brno Municipal Theatre. Viktor Skála and Petr Štěpán as John and Algernon sparkle with Wilde’s replies, paddling with enjoyment in the waters of light conversation and swimming happily as Christmas carps who were bold enough to avoid fish nets. Zdena Herfortová, perfect in every respect, impressed terseness, go-ahead manner and inflexibility on her Lady Bracknell; Ivana Vaňková endowed Cecily with natural playfulness, wit, incredible immediateness and charming grace. Not so successful was Veronika Poláčková (a guest) playing Gwendolen, rather stiff and less confident in some dialogues (her talking with Ivana Vaňková playing Cecily was more comfortable). Excellent creations on a small space were played by Eva Jelínková in the role of confused Miss Prism and Jiří Tomek playing Reverend Chasuble who is finally, with a likeable grimace and a bit against his will, driven in the yoke of marriage, too. John’s killjoy manservant Lane, in the decently balanced performance by František Lešovský, member of the artistic-technical company, should be mentioned, too.

Besides incredibly humorous and clever replies and superb performances, the play is adorned with stylish costumes designed by Jan Růžička (a guest) and a lovely imaginative stage designed by Miroslav Milfajt (also a guest), equipped with a functional garden swing in the second act. Just swing gently on the wave of the elegant entertainment.

The Bet on Earnest Came Out Well

Jaroslav Parma 1. December -1 zdroj KSMB of the town of Blansko

It can be said without hesitation that a witty performance was born in which actors play indeed with an excellent text (translation by Jiří Z. Novák), enjoying the possibilities given to them by the author of the successful “bunburying” as well as by the directress. It is a pleasure to follow the superb Viktor Skála (John) and Petr Štěpán (Algernon) performing the main male characters, the excellent Zdena Herfortová playing Lady Bracknel, the outstanding performers of girls around whom the story is going, Veronika Poláčková (Gwendolen - guest) and Ivana Vaňková (Cecily). The charming scatter-brained Eva Jelínková playing the part of Miss Prism, governess, and the lovely Reverend Chasuble played by Jiří Tomek must be mentioned too. For the parts of servants, Pavel Kunert and František Lešovský (member of artistic-technical ensemble) were chosen by the directress and it was a good choice.

The performance is moving fast (perhaps the start is slowed down with Algernon playing with a water pipe), can occupy an audience, its details are to the benefit as well, e.g. a speaking parrot or facial gestures under the dovecot.

The play is performed on the stage designed by Jaroslav Milfajt, in the costumes designed by Jan Růžička, movement is managed by Jaroslava Zimová-Leufenová (all guests); music was written by Daniel Fikejz. The text was adapted by the directress and the dramatic advisor Jiří Záviš. It can be said the dramatic adviser was earnest when he decided to include this evergreen comedy by the Irish Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde in the repertory (premiere on 14/02/1895 at St. James’s Theatre). Theatre-goers can really look forward to the play.

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