The importance of being Earnest, review

Edoardo Camponeschi and Nadia Caretto

ROME- The importance of being Earnest is more English than Shakespeare; more English than the crumpets fought over or the backward logic of witticisms defend half-baked ideas. When I heard a production of the play was on at Teatro San Genesio. I was understandably excited. In a city that can so often lack the charm of that England, where silly pretence is substituted for superficiality or “bella figura,” where traditions are toyed with instead of lived by, where “style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”

 Oscar Wilde never aspired towards realism, took the “artifice” in “art” literally. It felt right to sit down and watch a production in which the accents of the characters weren’t of central importance, in which the stage lights were that warm artificial yellow, the climbing roses were that deep plastic green, all in keeping with that fin de siècle aesthetic.

 The production was unusual with greater emphasis put on the woman of the cast, Algernon and John’s boyish antics seemed secondary to the reaction of Cecily or Lady Bracknell. In step with the society of Jeeves and Wooster, the poor boys are at the mercy of the matriarch and the girls they want to marry.

 Nadia Caretto’s performance of Cecily embodied the naïve and powerful charm of the era’s quick talking, sly-smiling, women that sweep you up and compel you to join them making castles in the air. Playing opposite her was Edoardo Camponeschi’s Algernon Moncrieff, the boy that “has nothing, but he looks everything.” Camponeschi’s sly silliness, absurd yellow suit, and smile as if to clue you in that, like a child, he’s playing make-believe.

 While not detracting from the achievement the cast and crew, this is a hard play to get wrong, as long as the words are said right. In my opinion, this is Oscar Wilde’s best work and oozes charm in its rhyme and rhetoric.

 The cast all ran with their characters: Rishad Noorani’s John was an anxious stick in the mud; Shelagh Stuchbery’s Lady Bracknell had that arbitrary definitiveness and matriarchal command that makes her such an enjoyably infuriating character to watch.

 All in all, Sandra Provost succeeded in showing this play as it should be. I would recommend it to any English expatriates who want to see the charm of the south captured by a slew of actors from around the Globe.


Show times are as follows:

27 Oct. 20:30

28-29 Oct. 17:30

Teatro Genesio, Via Podgora 1