Thursday, November 6, 2014

What's In A Name?

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday, had a minor emergency, but it's all good now.  To make it up to you I have a rambling of one of my favorite plays.  I love reading play, it's the theatre major in me, it takes me back to my stage days and just makes me really happy.  It is also a different way to get a story, everything broken down into scenery, stage directions, and script gives you most of the info you need, but allows you to imagine it any way you want.  Today's play is The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and has long been one of my absolute favorite plays.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We start with our two main men, Algernon and John discussing a cigarette case that John had left at Algies house.  We learn that up until this point Algie had only known John as Earnest and John confesses that in the country he is John Worthing J.P., staid, respectable and normal owner of a country estate.  When things get to boring in the country, he tells his household, including his young and pretty ward Cecily Cardew that he must go to town and deal with his fictitious brother Earnest, whom while completely made up, manages to get into all kinds of trouble.  To this end when he gets to town, John is known as Earnest and lives a much more extravagant life style.  After hearing all of this Algie, who is a bit of a lackadaisical sort, decides he wants to meet miss Cardew.  John is
vehemently opposed to this, as he does not thing that Algie is a suitable mate for his ward.  While in town, in the guise of Earnest, John has been courting the glamorous Gwendolyn Fairfax and asks her hand in marriage. She readily agrees, but her overbearing mother the formidable Lady Bracknell who puts her foot down when she learns that Earnest/John has no real history other then he was found in a handbag in a train station and was adopted by Mr. Worthing.  John decides to go home and tell his household that his wayward brother has died and he will no longer need to go to the city.  Algy meanwhile decides to utilize his own fictitious friend Bunbury, who he claims is an invalid in the county to go pay a visit to the young Ms. Cardew.  We find our little Cecily in the garden, writing in her diary and filling her head with all sorts of romantic thoughts.  Algie, pretending to be Earnest arrives and woo's Ms. Cardew and secures a promise of engagement from her.  Ms. Fairfax arrives to talk to John...whom she still believes to be Earnest and runs into Ms. Cardew.  One of the funniest exchanges I have ever read occurs, with much confusion over to who is engaged to who, and which Earnest is which.  In the end the truth is revealed and both John and Algie officially change their names to Earnest to please their lovers and they all go off to live absurdly and happily ever after.
I cannot do justice to the absolute absurdity and humor of this play justice.  It takes the most ridiculous aspects of society and turns them into fodder for the audience to laugh at.  It is a fairly simple play, as in it has a minimum of characters and settings and is very easy to follow.  I have seen this play performed many times, been in it a couple of times, and even like the movie version with Colin Firth (of course Colin Firth is probably the reason I like anything I watch).  I love stories about
mistaken identity, when the premise is plausible, and while silly, all the events in this play could technically happen.  I also love love love the dialogue.  It is the height of...well I know I keep using this word, but it's the best one, absurdity.  The back and forth between Ms. Cardew and Ms. Fairfax is hilarious and just insane.  This play is not one about morals, or good and bad, or a great love overcoming all odds.  It is about a bunch of people who think they are smarter then they actually are, who get themselves into minor trouble, and then quickly get themselves out again.  All the misunderstandings are almost entirely the fault of the men in tricking the ladies...but also a bit on the ladies for swallowing every single story the men tell them.  There is no real bad guy, no real good guy, just a fun, silly story that highlights certain aspects of a particular society.  I love it.  I give it 9 out of 10 German Grammer Books.
Do you consider plays as books?  What is your favorite play?  Do I get utterly incomprehensible when I get gushy?

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