Plays are a tricky thing to my mind. You inexorably tied to the patience of the audience and thereby you are forbidden from going over a certain number of pages or overcomplicating your narrative. I’m struggled to find a playwrights that manage to balance their creative intent without sacrificing narrative flow. It’s all well and good to be witty, urbane, or whatever other words tend to get tossed around when describing plays, but if you can’t find a balance in pacing all you’ve created is a bunch of aphorisms and tied them together to show off. I feared when I read The Importance of Being Earnest that that was what Wilde was truly about. I was wrong and I had a fun time having that proven to me.
The play has wit, but at its core it is a drama and as such the story is what drives it. There is no hobbling from scene to scene and chortling to one’s self with puns and simple paradoxes, this play breathes with something very human. It is at once contemplation of the morality of holding those that would lead us to higher standard and realities just how power, money, politics have become to inexorably connected.
It is relevant to point of being uncanny and filled with characters that feel grounded as much humanity that can be pressed into 80 pages of mostly white space. The most stunning of the plays accomplishments must be in its ability to craft a politician that one not only sympathizes with, but roots for.
While it stumbles into the pitfalls of an ending far too conveniently, it was, as near as I can tell, an expectation of the age and does nothing to mitigate what came before it. This is wit perfectly crafted around narrative, if you haven’t had a chance to delve into Oscar Wilde yet, I highly recommend you start here.
“It takes great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” ― Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband