The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde’s play returns to the stage

Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Constant, returns to the stage at the Hébertot Theater until November 30, 2022. The opportunity to discover one of the author’s most emblematic works between comedy and social purpose .

While the play directed by Arnaud Denis (Wise women, What’s coming and what’s to come, Miss Moliere…) had to stop due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the performances finally resumed, this Tuesday, November 1 at the Hébertot Theater, in Paris.

Created by Oscar Wilde, in London, in 1895, The Importance ofto be Constant tells the story of two dandies, Jack and Algernon, who lead double lives by inventing false brothers to satisfy their libertine thirst. Despite their attraction for the pleasures of the flesh, love will finally come knocking at their door. Algernon will fall in love with Gwendoline, while Jack will seek to conquer Cecily. Gathered in Jack’s cottage, they will try to hide the truth about their past, but the old aunt Augusta, Lady Brackwell, who ensures respect for etiquette, risks opposing the mixing of classes and their union.

Between fidelity and reinvention

If Arnaud Denis kept the initial essence of the piece, he transposes it this time in the interwar period. An effective spring that proves, however, that the subject of the piece has everything to survive the ages. Here, the younger generation will have to oppose the traditional old guard, while The Importance of Being Consistent denounces the class struggle.

The choice of the post-World War I setting is very interesting since it makes it possible to draw a parallel between the Victorian era once depicted in the play, and the evolution of mores as a universal subject. Aunt Augusta, to whom Evelyne Buyle lends her features, embodies this conservative attachment, while Jeoffrey Bourdenet and Arnaud Denis personify new societal aspirations.

The genius of Oscar Wilde recalls here that of Marivaux, around false identities, but also that of Molière. References that will certainly have something to seduce the French public, while the piece retains its identity british. The words follow one another with ingenuity, while we find the humor and the spirituality of the Irish director.

The stratagems of the characters, the misunderstandings of the situation and the adventures offer a delicious farce, which plunges us back into the classics of great comedy, vaudeville style. This mix of genres between free fun and real social purpose gives weight to The Importance of Being Consistent. Add to that, the work of the sets, the costumes, but also the interpretation of Marie Coutance and Delphine Depardieu, and you get a play full of surprises, references and singularity. A work ultimately in the image of its original author, but also of its current director. A journey through time, to be discovered until November 30, 2022 at the Hébertot Theater in Paris. The show will also be on view at the Olympia in Arcachon on January 18, 2023.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Oscar Wilde’s play returns to the stage