May/June 2013

The Importance Of Being Earnest
by Oscar Wilde


Directed and Produced
by Marcia Baldry
and Diana Bradley

Well received by the
"serious people" of
rural Essex
Michael Gray

A superb success
Braintree & Witham Times


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The Importance of Being Earnest (A Trivial Comedy for Serious People) is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest comedies in the English language with wonderful characters, sparkling wit, gloriously improbable plot twists and a sprinkling of romance.  

Jack is in love with Gwendolen, Algernon is in love with Cecily, but both Gwendolen and Cecily are in love with Ernest.  As a tangle of identity spirals out of control, the previously separate worlds of town and country collide and delicious mayhem ensues.  Thoughts of marriage and a happy ending must be put on hold until the indomitable Lady Bracknell can be convinced that the young men are worthy suitors.



Jack Worthing has come to visit Algernon Moncrieff at his London flat.  Jack tells Algy that he is to propose to his cousin Gwendolen.  Algy refuses to allow it as he believes Jack is already involved with a person called Cecily.



Lady Bracknell and her daughter Gwendolen arrive and invite Algy to dinner.  Algy declines as his friend Bunbury is very ill.  Bunbury is an imaginary friend who is used by Algy to
escape unwanted invitations.



After Algy and Lady Bracknell have left to discuss music for a reception, Jack, who is using the alias Ernest, seizes the moment to propose to Gwedolen.  She believes she is destined to love a man called Ernest and accepts him just as Lady Bracknell returns, shocked to find what has happened.



Having sent Gwendolen to wait outside, Lady Bracknell proceeds to question Jack on his suitability for marriage.  She is outraged to find that Jack has no parents and was indeed found as a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station.



Gwendolen returns distraught by what her mother has found out.  She and Jack resolve to keep in touch and he gives her details of his country house in Hertfordshire hitherto kept secret from Algy.  Algy overhears them and writes down the address.



Feeling pleased with himself, Algy asks his manservant Lane to pack as he is going "Bunburying" in the country disguised as a person called Ernest.



In the garden of Jack's house in Hertfordshire, His ward, Cecily, is taking German lessons from her governess Miss Prism when the Rector of Woolton, Dr Chasuble arrives to take Miss Prism for a stroll leaving Cecily to her unwelcome studies.  Jack has gone to see his brother Ernest, an imaginary person used by Jack to visit London surreptitiously.



Algy, using the name Ernest Worthing arrives unannounced and Cecily assumes him to be Jack's brother who has a wicked reputation.  Cecily having never met a really wicked person before feels rather frightened.  She is disappointed to find that he looks quite normal.



Dr Chasuble and Miss Prism return to find Jack who is in deepest mourning for his brother Ernest who has "died" in Paris of a severe chill.



Cecily returns to tell Jack that his brother is in the dining room.  Jack denies he has a brother at all.  Algy enters impersonating "Ernest" and Jack refuses to acknowledge him.  Cecily is outraged by Jack's behaviour.  Jack eventually shakes Algy's hand and he promptly invites himself to stay for a week.



Algy has fallen in love with Cecily and proposes to her.  Cecily then declared that she had fallen in love with him three months beforehand and had therefore been engaged to him since then,  They seal their engagement with a kiss.



Gwendolen arrives and meets Cecily.  Both are now engaged to Ernest Worthing believing them to be the same person,  Each, in a most polite fashion, argue that they have the prior claim over the other.



Cecily invites Gwendolen to tea.  Gwendolen, requests bread and butter and no sugar in her tea in order to be most fashionable.  Cecily asks Merriman to serve her four lumps of sugar and a large slice of cake instead.  They continue to fight in a most genteel manner.



When Algy and Jack return, it becomes apparent that they are not who the ladies believe them to be and that there is no such person as Ernest.  They agree that they cannot be engaged to anyone now and go into the house.  Algy and Jack have both decided to have themselves christened Ernest to try to recover the situation.



Algy and Jack enter the Morning Room nonchalantly whistling a tune whilst the ladies maintain a dignified silence.  They maintain that the christian names are an insuperable barrier to their engagements.



Lady Bracknell arrives having pursued Gwendolen from London.  She insists that Gwendolen is not engaged and, on hearing that Algy is to marry Cecily, proceeds to interrogate her about her background.



After finding that Cecily has considerable wealth, Lady Backnell soon finds her to be completely acceptable.  Jack however, refuses to give his consent, claiming that Algy is untruthful.  He will, though, give his consent if Lady Bracknell agrees to his marriage with Gwendolen.



Dr Chasuble arrives to ask about the christenings.  Miss Prism has followed Dr Chasuble and is horrified to find Lady Bracknell present.  Lady Bracknell recognises Miss Prism as a governess employed by Lord Bracknell many years ago.



Lady Bracknell asks her what happened when
28 years ago she left the house with a perambulator containing her baby nephew and never returned.  Miss Prism explains that she put the baby in a handbag by mistake for a literary manuscript she had written and had left the handbag at Victoria Station.



Jack, who has kept the handbag, rushes to get it and Miss Prism recognises it as her own.  Jack, realising that he was the baby, asks Miss Prism who he is.  She tells him to ask Lady Bracknell.



Lady Bracknell explains that he is the son of her brother General Moncrieff but cannot remember his name apart from the fact that he had been christened after his father.



After consulting the army lists for the period, Jack finds that his name really is Ernest after all.  With all resolved and everyone at last reconciled, Jack explains that he has now realised for the first time in his life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.

Cast

JOHN WORTHING:
ALGERNON MONCRIEFF:
THE REV. CANON CHASUBLE:
MERRIMAN:
LANE:
LADY BRACKNELL:
THE HON. GWENDOLEN FAIFAX:
CECILY CARDEW:
MISS PRISM:

Jonathan Scripps
Adam Thompson
Peter Nicholson
Steve Bradley
Rodney Foster
Jan Ford
Carol Parradine
Sonia Lindsey-Scripps
Judy Lee