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The Importance of Being Earnest


The Importance of Being Earnest is perhaps Oscar Wilde’s most popular play – since its first performance in 1895, it has seen countless productions and three film adaptations, and, in the words of the journalist Mark Lawson, is ‘the second most known and quoted play in English after Hamlet’.


Brimming with the counter-intuitive wit with which Wilde’s name is synonymous, the play follows two young men, Algernon and Jack, as they come to grips with one another’s ‘Bunburying’ – deceits involving invented identities and escaping unwanted socialising – which spiral out of control. Culminating in a hauntingly brilliant scene with a cast of characters dripping with satire, an unpublished manuscript and an unforgettable handbag, The Importance of Being Earnest lambasts the Victorian yearning for morality and meaning, and leaves the reader aching for an encore.

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