HC Theatre presents Wilde classic

Hanover College Theatre will present the Oscar Wilde classic, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Friday through Sunday, Nov. 22-24, at 7:30 p.m., in Parker Auditorium on the Hanover campus.

Subtitled, “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” the play is a farcical comedy about a hero who enters life through a misplaced handbag and, along with the work’s other protagonist, maintains a fictitious identity in order to escape burdensome social obligations and be with the woman he loves.

The play’s major themes are the triviality with which Victorian London treated institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of the period’s ways. Its high level of farce and witty dialogue have helped make “The Importance of Being Earnest” Wilde’s most enduring and popular work.

According to the production’s director, Professor of Theatre Mark Fearnow, Wilde was always in desperate need of money and wrote to theater manager George Alexander in July of 1894 with an extensive plot outline for a very funny play with no serious interest. Wilde asked for an advance of £150 so that he could take his wife and two children on holiday to a seaside resort in Sussex, where he could work on the script, far from the distractions of London.

Alexander ignored the request for funds, but showed keen interest in the play, which Wilde did go on to write in a three–week period by the sea. He submitted a supremely complicated and elaborately embroidered four-act comedy, but Alexander insisted it be reduced to a more concise three acts. Wilde reluctantly, but very skillfully complied, omitting several subplots and many scenes of witty banter that did not advance the action.

Considered one of the funniest plays in the English language, critics hailed the work a masterpiece at its opening Feb. 14, 1895.

Tickets for “The Importance of Being Earnest”  are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+), $5 for youth (high school and under) and free for Hanover faculty and staff.