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The Importance Of Being Earnestina
Published on Monday, 17 August 2009

At times funny, at times goofy and inarticulate, The Importance of being Earnestina is the same comic play by Wilde – only with the difference that the genders have been switched. The story is now carried by two young women, Algernina and Jane, who take the place of Wilde’s Algernon and Jack.

This is a fast-paced one-hour farce, set in Victorian Britain, where two wealthy women hunt for husbands and lead double lives. But their marriage candidates are incurably in love with the name of Earnestina, by which both women have introduced themselves.

The female leads felt more developed than the effeminate and at times benumbed male characters – again transposed in gender to Mr Bracknell, Cecil (Cecily), Godfrey (Gwendolyn) and Mr Prism. The portrayal of the female Dr Chasuble was extremely engaging, and in another change from the original, Cecil embodied quite successfully the character of a homosexual. But I found Dr Prism stiff and boring, and Mr Bracknell awkwardly devoid of authority. Jane and Algerina, in contrast, excelled in the denouement scene of a hilarious muffin-eating competition.

The performance was a bizarre experience - the actors forgot lines or made mistakes, and the scenes often sounded forced. Still, the idea of reading a classic play in such a vice-versa way was a worthwhile and daring experiment.

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