Friday night, my mother and I went to see what will most likely be the last play I see at this season’s Stratford Festival – The Importance of Being Earnest. This was the last play that Oscar Wilde wrote, and it apparently premiered only weeks before he was tried and found guilty of, well, being gay. (Hrmph. So glad we don’t live in a society like that any more.)
I had never read or seen this play before, and had never seen any movie adaptations of it, so I knew very little about the story going into it. Basically this is a comedy in Victorian England about two men who are in love with two women, and both the women believe the men that they are in love with is someone else – a man named Earnest. And hijinks ensue. And there is a lot of eating of muffins and cucumber sandwiches. And arguing. And other wonderfully funny stuff.
The extremely talented Brian Bedford directed this play, and had the role of Lady Bracknell (the mother of one of the women in love with one of the Earnest’s). I try to see at least one of Bedford’s plays every season – he is by far one of my favourite stage actors, and I love love LOVE the stuff he does at the Festival. Unfortunately, he wasn’t at the Festival last year (sob!) so I was super excited to have the chance to see him in this play this season. This particular play showcases his brilliance with comedy as well as his ability to take on any role and completely make it his own. And let’s face it, this was his play. The other actors were fabulous, but when Bedford was on stage, all of my attention was focused solely on him.
This was definitely one of the highlights of the summer for me, and oh, I so want to read the play now!