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by Oscar Wilde

The Questors Playhouse
October 1984

Directed by John Wilson
Designed by Beth Crowley
Lighting by Martin Stoner
Costumes by Stella Bond
Sound by Tony Swaby



Tony Barber, Neville Bradbury, Linda Buxton, Heather Godley, Peter Holmes, Gavin McQueen, Paulina Nichol, Vivienne Patterson, Ken Ratcliffe, Chris Waidock, Alison Wilson

Production Team:
Mary Angus, Glyn Backshall, Caroline Bleakley, Stella Bond, Chris Brandt, Linda Buxton, Julie Cruttenden, Neville Gillett, Anne Gilmour, Lesley Harris, Wendi Harrison, Jackie Hulbert, Friedl Landau, Elizabeth Marshall, Julie Matthews, Clare McKeown, Brian McLoughlin, Gordon Miller, David Palmer, Valerie Palmer, Sue Peckitt, Iris Phelps, Jenny Richardson, Edith Ricket, Jeremy Scottowe, Gail Sharp, Roger Sturm, Roger Sturm, Tony Swaby, Nikki Tait, Tracey Tomlinson, Liz Wood

"Exquisitely trivial, a delicate bubble of fancy, and it has its philosophy: we should treat all the trivial things of life very seriously and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality" — so, wrote Oscar Wilde about The Importance of Being Earnest — probably the wittiest comedy in the English language: it is certainly the least earnest.

"A trivial comedy for serious people" — a play about the only subject Oscar Wilde would admit to taking seriously — wit, elegance, and paradox. The genius of the greatest conversationalist of his day has been preserved in the framework of this play.

Before its first production Wilde wrote to George Alexander, the eventual producer "The real charm of the play, if it is to have a charm, must be the dialogue. The plot is slight, but I think adequate. An amusing thing with lots of fun and wit might be made. If you think so too and care to have the refusal of it, do let me know and send me £150. If when the play is finished you think it too slight — not serious enough — of course you can have the £150 back".

The first night on 14th February 1895 brought triumph and acclaim — Wilde once said "I never write plays for anyone. I write plays to amuse myself. Later, if anyone wants to act in them, I sometimes allow him to do so".

Oscar Wilde was arrested in April 1895. A month later, after two trials, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour for homosexuality.* After serving his sentence he went into exile and died in Paris in November, 1900. He was 46 years old.

"I am sorry my play is boycotted by the press. However I hope some of the faithful, and all the elect, will buy copies. If you hear anything nice said about the play, write to me; if not invent it." Oscar Wilde (after his arrest).

* The Oxford Companion to the Theatre.