The Importance of Being Consistent by Oscar Wilde, created in 1895 in London, is a jewel of Victorian theatre. Arnaud Denis’ staging transposes the play to the 1920s, and underlines its social criticism. An independent youth faces the old guard of another age. A universal subject that transcends time, where Wilde’s biting humor excels.
Jack and Algernon are two dandies who lead double lives by inventing false brothers to satisfy their libertine thirst. Algernon invites himself to Jack’s cottage in the countryside, where he seeks the hand of Cecily, while his friend falls in love with the young Gwendoline. But the old aunt Augusta, Lady Brackwell, takes care of the respect of the etiquette and is opposed to the mixing of the classes, therefore to the marriage of Jack and Cecily.
Recalling Marivaux in the false identities conducive to misunderstandings, Molières in the revelation of Jack’s origins, and Labiche in vaudeville, The Importance of Being Consistent so British Oscar Wilde has everything to please the French public. His statement, denouncing class inequality, is also close to republican aspirations. The tone is nonetheless English, the words fuse, and the spirituality of Oscar Wilde is constant.
The Victorian moral corset stigmatized by Wilde is transposed by Arnaud Denis in the post-First World War period. The late Victorian era yearned for less morality, and the Great War turned Western civilization upside down. Both eras aspired to change, the first to that of mores, the second to that of society. Aunt Augusta, to whom Evelyne Buyle lends all the distinction and precedence, embodies this conservative attachment, faced with a reforming youth. Fortunately, humor saves everyone.
Jeoffrey Bourdenet (Jack) and Arnaud Denis (Algernon) compete with feints and stratagems to achieve their ends. They face Delphine Depardieu who exults in vivacity and Marie Coutance with a very pre-Raphaelite presence. Lightness, humor and energy run through the room, in the heart of the beautiful Art Deco and airy decors by Jean-Michel Adam. The magnificent costumes of Pauline Yaoua Zurini contribute to the fabric of the characters and the pleasure of the eyes. Classicism and modernity come together in Wilde, as in the staging and the interpretation that Arnaud Denis orchestrates with enthusiasm.
The Importance of Being Consistent
By Oscar Wilde
Staging: Arnaud Denis assisted by Arianne Echallier
With: Evelyne Buyle, Jeoffrey Bourdenet, Delphine Depardieu, Arnaud Denis, Nicole Dubois, Marie Coutance, Jean-Pierre Couturier, Thierry Fohrer, Fabrice Talon
Wednesday to Friday at 9 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.
78 bis Boulevard des Batignolles, 75017 Paris
Telephone: 01 43 87 24 24
“The Importance of Being Constant”: Oscar Wilde in a brilliant adaptation with actors at the party at the Hébertot Theater in Paris