The Importance of Being Earnest
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Kim Taylor

Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde’s only purely playful comedy. But it’s also the best play to watch the subtle twists of the author’s wit. His jokes often hold two layers of truth, which surprises you into laughter. One good example is when Lady Bracknel (Nan Ayers) says: “I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.” Or when Algernon Moncrieff (Chad J. Williams) says: “I hope tomorrow will be a great day.” To which his butler replies: “It never is, sir.” And then there’s the moment when one of the characters says: “I hate novels that end happily. They’re so depressing.”

Indeed, it’s comedy, with a double twist of truth, which makes this play such a joy to watch. Additionally, the situations grow more absurd by the dignified way these Victorian English characters speak. It’s this absurd honesty that makes Wilde’s plays timeless.

On the surface, the story seems quite simple. Two women are attracted to men they believe to be named Earnest. But it seems to be the name more than anything else that attracts them because when the men ask if they would still be interested in them if their name were Jack or Algernon, the women quickly let them know that no other name will do. Yet it’s earnestness of another kind that wins out in the end.

Come join Ross Valley Players for this opening play of their 75th season. For tickets or more information call (415) 495-9555 or visit

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