“The Importance of Being Earnest”
by Oscar Wilde
Multicast performance Featuring: James Marsters, Charles Busch, Emily Bergl, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, Christopher Neame, & Matthew Wolf.
Produced by L.A. Theatre Works (2009)
Approx 2 hours
There were three main reasons I was drawn to this audio book / audio drama. The first was that the actor playing Jack/Earnest was James Marsters. I have really enjoyed Marsters delivery on audio books before and have come to love his acting. Second I have studied theater and one of my favorite plays is this one, I love the twists on words. And finally, it was a L.A. Theatre Works production. I recently listened to their production of “A Raisin in the Sun” and was impressed by how great their stage productions translated to audio book format without losing anything.
L.A. Theater Works has a large catalog of plays that have been produced into audio book form and I know I’ll be going back for more, I was attracted to this because of James Marsters, but the other actors were hilarious and perfect to the roles. The casting and direction of these plays is perfect as comes out in these releases. The minor sound effects are heard and it sounds as if you are in the front row of the performance. The audience response is even heard making this even more of a sitting-in-the-audience experience.
The reason I like this play is the use of language. The plays on words are fun and at times have a bit of a message for the audience. Deep down the play demonstrates that over all we must all be honest. Wilde pushes this idea through the English parlour type of a play where people aren’t who they seem to be.
Jack tells his household that he is off to visit Earnest, his brother who is ill. Earnest doesn’t exist but it gives Jack the excuse to leave home and get out of social events. When Jack is off visiting Algie he goes by the name Earnest. Jack confesses his alter ego to Algie and gives Algie an idea on how he can do the same. Jack then meets Algie’s cousin Gwendolyn and falls in love, but she couldn’t love anyone other than someone named Earnest. Jack goes back home and is determined to become christened to be Earnest, but first he tells everyone his brother has died.
The death of Earnest is a big surprise, because Algie goes to visit Jack under the guise of Jack’s brother Earnest. Algie falls in love with Jack’s ward, Cecily, but Cecily would only marry someone named Earnest, Algie now makes arrangements to be christened.
In the big scene real names are revealed including the surprise that Jack is not who he thinks he is. All in all the mixed identities are fun but the real fun is the use of language. With this play Wilde paved the way for future comedies in this genre including Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Great way to have fun for a couple of hours, just pick up this audio book from L.A. Theatre Works.