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Wilde had nothing to declare but genius

This February, Lakeshore Players invite audiences to discover the vital “importance of being earnest” from the man who, upon entering the U.S. in the 19th century, claimed that he had nothing to declare except his genius.

Famed wit Oscar Wilde and director Kevin John Saylor will keep audiences in stitches with the classic comedy of “marriage, moralism, and mistaken identities.”

In this comedy of manners, two bachelors dissatisfied with their respective urban and rural social milieus forge new identities to be able to do as they please and pursue their objects of affection under a name that seems to inspire confidence among all women, only to find that their good-natured deceit has caught up with them – as has the formidable and daunting aristocratic prospective mother-in-law, Lady Bracknell.

The play is downright hilarious. I have seen people roll in the aisles. It’s marvelously witty, with brilliant dialogue, and the breadth of the manipulation of the intricacies of the English language is incredible.

As we appreciate the hilarity of the situations the characters find themselves in, we pick up aspects of the social subversion that would make Wilde an easy target for censorship and imprisonment.

Wilde mocks, and we laugh, at the class system:

“Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?” Current fashion: “The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present.”

The battle between the sexes: “In married life three is company and two is none.”

The social life: “London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained 35 for years.”

Literary censorship: “Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn’t. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.”

Victorian literary morals: “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily; that is what fiction means.”

Fearsome mothers-in-law insistent upon heredity: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

The play is rife with elegant and laugh-out-loud witticisms; these were just a few. Audiences are invited to watch Oscar Wilde declare nothing but his genius until February 13 at John Rennie Theatre, 501 St. Jean Blvd., Pointe Claire. Tickets: Orchestra $22, balcony $18, students and seniors $16. To reserve: 514-631-8718.



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