The Importance of Being Earnest – a new take

22 Apr


The other week I went to the Barbican to watch Gerald Barry’s adaptation of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’.  I knew very little about what to expect, except that it was an operatic version of the famous play.  I should mention that although I have never read or watched the play, I had a basic understanding of the premise given its ubiquity.  I should also mention I’m not particularly a fan of opera but these tickets were a gift and it had received a plethora of positive reviews, so I was optimistic.

It’s one of Wilde’s lighter plays, humorous and farcical in nature although it does touch upon the rigid, ridiculous social conventions of the time.  This adaptation took place on a rather bare stage, on which the orchestra sat alongside the actors.  In some ways, the actors singing their lines in an operatic fashion worked – it added to their ridiculousness and pomposity.  But in another way, it was quite frustrating and try-hard, and lost a great deal of novelty after the first few minutes.

The orchestra’s discordant score along with the characters’ manic dialogue created something of a frenzied, ridiculous atmosphere.   Add in plate smashing and jumping around the stage while singing in falsetto, and you get a weird mix of humour and irritation and I left the theatre nursing a mild headache, relieved to return to the world of normal speech.

2 Responses to “The Importance of Being Earnest – a new take”

  1. b April 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    jade, sorry to leave a weird public comment like this (feel free to delete it) but I wasn’t sure how to contact you. Couldn’t find you on social media (that’s a wise move by the way). I went to school with you, we used to have some really good after hours chats in the common room. I’ve been really struggling recently with life, I’ve sort of ended up back at home with nothing going for me. I was doing some searching on how to get to know who I am instead of searching for external things to fill this void I have inside. I read an article about a woman who went to Cambridge for a month and had a rough time. I really related to the article and the feelings described and it wasn’t until I got to the end that I thought ‘hang on, I know that name!’

    I wanted to thank you for spending time writing and helping others who have experienced these things. I’m still not sure if I’ll find out what the point of my life is, I can’t believe how long I’ve managed to ignore the problem. Bit mad really. I was so happy to read that it’s possible to get through it. I felt a little stirring of hope inside.

    Thank you. x

    • jadeinlondon July 6, 2017 at 9:15 am #

      Oh my gosh, I am so sorry for getting to this so late in the day. Your comment was so lovely and I always think back fondly to our chats in the common room. I totally understand how you feel. These feelings come and go with me and I think with time, I’ve just managed to become a little more resilient to things which doesn’t mean that things don’t get me down or I don’t feel lost some of the time, but I’m more equipped to feel the shit feelings and move on. You’re such a talented, creative person – I remember I was genuinely always in awe of your art (I used to look at your art on your Deviantart account back in the day) and intellect and I want you to know that when you’re feeling a bit squiffy about things.xx

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