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Arts / Entertainment

'The Importance of Being Earnest'

April 18, 2012

'The Importance of Being Earnest,' has been called the climax and culmination of Oscar Wilde's artistic career. In the play, two young men lead double lives, assuming the name, 'Earnest,' until they both fall in love with women using that name, which leads to a comedy of mistaken identities.

Opening night

Opening night for the Theatre program's production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest is Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Theatre, University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington Street.

Additional performance dates

  • Friday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 14, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, April 20, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.


  • $8/CSU students
  • $8/youth (under 17)
  • $18/public

Purchase tickets.

Dazzling, dizzying dialogue

Premiering in London in 1985, the most popular of Oscar Wilde’s theatrical works has become a timeless classic loved by many as one of the funniest plays ever written, with dazzling, dizzying dialogue. Wilde treats “all trivial things very seriously and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality.”

The beguiling characters – Algernon and Jack, Cecily and Gwendolen, Lady Bracknell, and Miss Prism – endure across time as some of the wittiest and silliest stage characters ever created.  

“Besides the beautiful costumes and lovely set, the story is woven together beautifully in its structure. I didn’t realize it was this good, I’ve forgotten how brilliant the dialogue is,” said Director Eric Prince. “It’s like a verbal opera, the language is the music.”

Understanding the paradoxical quality of life

The story of two men who decide to lead double lives in order to win over the women they love is complicated, but so comical that the plot becomes engrossing. We laugh as we travel along the play’s hilarious bumpy road to connubial bliss, wallowing in witty aphorisms, utter nonsense, and the most preposterous of plots.

Wilde's great genius was his keen understanding of the paradoxical quality of life. Worldliness or spirituality? Pleasure or duty? Seriousness or triviality? Though we try to present masks of conformity to the world, most of us live somewhere in between. Wilde himself lived a notoriously double life and paid a heavy price for flouting his society's rigid code of behavior.   

Fortunately the people in Earnest suffer no such punishment; the course of true love may not run smoothly, but it does end happily. It’s hard to imagine a finer entertainment for a spring evening.

The idiosyncracies of the Victorian age

Spending many rehearsal hours on the intricacies of movement and diction, Tim Garrity, playing the role of Lady Bracknell notes that “in that era, their personal space was like a cylinder around them; they didn’t take any big steps or flail about—almost like everyone has a secret.”

“In the end,” he notes, “I want Lady Bracknell to be the most pompous snob.”

The Importance of Being Earnest is a real treat,” says Prince. “I think we overlook these great period plays because we often concentrate on the modern pieces. They are different plays to produce, but our program has grown, and we have the talent to do it.”

Contact: Carrie Care
Phone: (970) 491-3603