A Woman of No Importance

it was interesting to see this play by Oscar Wilde just a few days after seeing Shaw’s play Mrs Warren’s Profession.  Both plays were updated to more modern times, but Wilde’s play holds up much better and could even have been updated to the present time. Mrs Warren’s Profession would need a lot of editing and rewriting to make the shift.

Discussing the play on the way home, I wondered if Wilde wrote better women than Shaw because he was gay? Not being romantically interested in women, but clearly fascinated by them, he demonstrates a much sharper view of women and how they think and behave. Shaw is much more romantic.

Fiona Byrne was a wonderful strong Rachel Arbuthnot. Fiona Reid was a wonderful contrast as her friend, the clueless but nice Lady Hunstanton. Martin Happer was a deliciously louche Lord Illingworth and Wade Bogert O’Brien was the innocent and somewhat clueless  son, Gerald Arbuthnot. Lots of lovely dialogue with interjections from the likes of Mary Haney, Jim Mezon, Jeff Meadows, Claire Julien and Diana Donnelly, who was delightfully cynical as Mrs Allonby. Occasionally the witty repartee is so snappy it stops the action. But it is fun!


About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
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One Response to A Woman of No Importance

  1. keithhpotter says:

    Wilde gets in some of his best Epigrams in this play – even if the show has to come to a halt for a while as it happens.
    I did not find moving the period to the 50s was a problem, and allowed for some beautiful outfits, except for Hester’s over-the-top reaction to Illingworth trying to kiss her.
    I have trouble with an aspect of the plot in any period, though. Mrs. Arbuthnot describes herself as ruined, a financial and social outcast, and yet she is shown with a house, two servants and Lady Hunstanton as her neighbour and best friend. Some outcast!
    Clearly Arbuthnot was badly treated by Illingworth, but her self pity and determination to be a martyr wears on one. Maybe the period shift is a problem.
    Perhaps not Wilde’s best play, but some of his best lines, and a beautiful production with an excellent cast (Fiona Reid was a bit closer to the stereotype she can slip into her, but it suited the role of Lady Hunstanton).
    I do wish to extend my sympathy to Claire Jullien, though. I don’t know what it was about her outfits but they managed to make a beautiful woman look a frump. Right for the part, but a pity nonetheless.

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