Oscar Wilde, scarlet jammies & Dublin

June 11, 2010

When the actor playing the fey Algernon in tonight’s performance of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest walked out in his red silk pajamas and dressing gown, I was hooked. Riveted to him and his jammies, and I wish I could’ve taken a photo.

A so-so production, despite Stockard Channing’s appearance, which was heavily marketed. She wasn’t that good. In fact, the acting was very low key in most of the first act, which is a shame, because some of Wilde’s best and most over-the-top lines are in it. Such as:

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to some one else, if she is plain.

It is awfully hard work doing nothing. However, I don’t mind hard work where there is no definite object of any kind.

Things picked up in Act II, thank goodness. And of course, Wilde is timeless:

And certainly once a man begins to neglect his domestic duties he becomes painfully effeminate, does he not? And I don’t like that. It makes men so very attractive.

London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

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?

A wonderful thrill to see a Wilde play in Dublin. One more day here, at a medieval monastery tomorrow morning, which is, of course, the only possible follow-on to Oscar Wilde. And then: Scotland.

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