“Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?”
Jonathan Price’s idiosyncratic version of Oscar Wilde's timeless masterpiece 'The Importance Of Being Earnest' pops and fizzes with razor-sharp wit, mistaken identities, and scintillating observations on human hypocrisy. "An old favourite, brilliantly performed. Imagine a Victorian comedy of manners meeting the digital age's humour and flamboyance. That's our 'Earnest' for you," Price says.
In an age consumed by appearances, Price’s reimagined rendition offers a gender fluid glimpse into our current obsession with identity and the many masks we choose to wear. Wilde's classic emerges anew, not just as colourful, naughty, and subversive as ever, but also an exhilarating celebration of identity, truth, and the joys of theatrical impersonation. Price delves into the continuous games of identity we play with each other and the farcical absurdity of our individual endeavours. "Everyone says 'Be yourself!'" he says, "but Wilde playfully asks, ‘Where's the fun in that?' "
To capture the spirit of transformation, the production features “imaginative costuming, bold characterisation, and hyper-theatricality” with plenty of intimate audience asides enabled by the remodelling of the Circa stage.
The cast includes a talented ensemble of some of Aotearoa’s finest comic actors, including Andrew Paterson who provides a fine ‘Jack’ Worthing and is pugnaciously supported by Isobel Mackinnon as Algernon Moncrieff. Ryan Carter plays Gwendolen Fairfax with great extravagance and Dawn Cheong brigs an infantile grace to Cecily Cardew. Irene Wood gracefully becomes Lady Bracknell, while Anne Chamberlain’s Miss Prism and Peter Hambleton’s Reverend Chasuble bring up the rear-guard with consummate aplomb.
Together with Production Designer Meg Rollandi, Lighting Designer Isadora Lao, and Sound Designer Matt Asunder, they enable the brilliance of Wilde's comedy of manners to shine through.
"Earnest is your fantasy self," adds Price. "What has Jack done to fit into London society? What version of Earnest does Algernon adopt in the country? The possibilities are endless."
Season: 7 October - 4 November 2023
Location: Circa One, Circa Theatre, Wellington
Timings: Tues - Thurs 6.30 PM, Fri - Sat 8pm, Sun 4 PM
Ticket Pricing: $30 - $55
Special Events: Post-show Q&A on Tuesday 10 October at 6.30 PM; Choose Your Price tickets on Wednesday 11 October at 6.30pm.
Book online at circa.co.nz or phone the box office at 04 801 7992.