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Wildely Earnest

Was very touched by the sweet Wild Rice people calling with condolences (Ivan before a show–hope this doesn’t get you in trouble with your director!)–but that’s not why I want to mention The Importance of Being Earnest here–

I really really loved the show!

& that’s saying a lot because I was prepared to find it just ‘okay’… Why?
Because too often British word play doesn’t translate so well on stage here and because this piece always seemed (to me) to set up the female characters as stereotyped foils for the Bunburying men.

This time, with male actors playing the female roles, the whole thing worked so brilliantly–it was about playing parts & keeping up appearances and the need to play parts in order to keep up appearances, yes.

But the male players playing female roles (which they did brilliantly) underlined & hammered in the point that it’s not just those who invent alter egos & excuses who are role-playing themselves into stereotypes–
–those who play the roles thrust upon them by society most successfully are the ones who are the most deceptive, managing to deceive even themselves!

For the longest time I thought Gwendolyn was an idiot as obsessed with appearances as Lady B (just different appearances!) and Cecily was a bit of a twit but Chua Enlai, Gavin Yap & the brilliant Ivan Heng (awesomely awful & awe-full as the ‘monster without being a myth’) made me realise these female characters were role-playing their chosen roles each in their own way… they were just more triumphantly successful at their roles than the male characters!

& I must mention that until I saw Hossan Leong in the role I saw Miss Prism as no more than the stereotype old maid/literary device… tremulously fleshed out by him she came to life as a would-be writer & romantic dreamer beneath that prim surface… (her precious ‘baby’ protected at Earnest’s expense was a 3 volume novel of more than usually revolting sensibility) and I so felt for her!

I believed Wilde wrote this play to make fun of Victorian ‘earnestness’ which expressed christian values as priggishness, preachiness & blindness (remember “never seen a spade”?) and thought it was a fun, functional farce… Wild Rice managed to make me see it anew as a brilliant work that transcends its form as well as the society it was written for!

PS. No, was not hired by Wild Rice to write this–it’s just that it’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt such total pleasure in a theatre experience.
And no, I don’t understand the NC 16 rating–what does the advisory say?

Advisory: suitable for 16 years and above due to the interpretation of the script by using an all-male cast

No, I still don’t understand the NC16 rating.

There were a couple of kids in my row the night I went (girl about 12, boy about 9 or 10) and from what I could see they loved it.
I think children understand the concept of playacting better than the civil servants who assigned this rating that deprived students in school organised groups of this experience.

The show was ‘gay’ only in the joyful, exuberant, mirthful, intensely animated sense of the word.

It was Wilde who said ‘life should imitate Art’ but in this case the MDA seems to have decided to imitate Lady Bracknell going “I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance”

Frankly, I prefer Ivan Heng’s delivery…


5 Responses

  1. ok… a little off topic… but… Was the music from T’ang Quartet any good???

  2. (Take out NOSPAM of course. Geez, what is the point of my apologising for clutter if I comment again… :P)

  3. Sorry, that address was wrong, I mean this one. Thanks and sorry about cluttering up your comments!

  4. BTW, I would like to email you about something, but cannot find your address. Could you please drop me a note at this address? (Not the glasscastle one.) Thanks!

  5. Ovidia, I am particularly amused by the coverage of this production because I went to an all-girls school, and I played Jack Worthing in our all-girl production! It was quite a hit – we packed the house and put on extra performances. The teachers censored references to Wilde’s sexuality in the brochures, but the fact that the all-girls cast meant it was inherently queered up seemed to be lost on everyone 🙂

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