Theatre: The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde’s iconic comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, will see two black women taking on the roles of all four characters in a non-traditional performance of the play.

The two women, Ayesha Casely-Hayford and Kudzanayi Chiwawa, will play all the characters in the 19th century comedy about manners which is both mocking and lovingly playful.

Director Arne Pohlmeier said: The Importance of Being Earnest is a hilarious comedy that pokes fun at the English upper class and exposes their triviality.

Nowadays people seem to think the play is a celebration rather than a critique of the upper set. “We are giving the play back it’s satiric bite.

“We do away with extraneous detail and zoom in on the witty banter and the physical alacrity of the play’s comic moments.

“Also, we draw on our own perspective as migrants to both flesh out and poke fun at these characters.

“Even the so-called minor characters – Ayesha’s Miss Prism and Kudzanayi’s Doctor Chasuble – are forces of nature in their own right.

“There are so many people vying to be called Earnest, so many couples eager to be united that it is hard to keep track.

“By reducing the numbers of actors on stage to just two but keeping the numbers of characters fully to what Oscar Wilde intended, nine when I last counted, we increase the pace and the hilarity of each and every moment.
The Importance of Being Earnest is a good night out at the theatre – quick witted dialogue, over the top posh-ness, mistaken identities, handbags and cucumber sandwiches.

“Underneath, however, there is also a tense drama about identity, social anxiety and the need to belong.

“Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Jatinder Verma, said: The Importance of Being Earnest is a quintessentially “British” period comedy.

“To see it presented by two British-African women is just the kind of ground-breaking cheek Oscar Wilde would have relished.”

The production will take to stage on February 27 running until March 16 at the Tara Theatre, 356 Garratt Lane Earlsfield, SW18 4ES.

Call 020 8333 4457 to book tickets.

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