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Catching up with Wilde's wildly amusing ladies over tea


The gals

The gals

The gals

That isn't a typo, you know. The Importance of Being Honest is every bit its own body of work as it is a charming companion piece to the comedy classic from which it takes its cue. And its characters.

Then again, if you're going to mess with Oscar Wilde, imagining an hour-long, country-garden exchange between good old Cecily and Gwendolen 20 years after the "famous ladies" bagged their famous Ernests, you had better give the show a damn good title.

Something clever, too.

Save for the bumbling antics of Merriman, the elderly butler, Dublin playwright and actress Billie Traynor has devised a playful two-hander where Gwendolen Moncrieff (Traynor, channelling her inner Maggie Smith) and sister-in-law Cecily (Noelle Brown) drink tea, sip wine and argue about change.


We suspect the two haven't seen each other for quite a while, and their surprise encounter couldn't come at a worse time.

"Infected with modernity", Cecily (big on interpretative dance and self-empowerment speeches) has just waved off Gwen's husband. And he's forgotten his cane (it's perched in the corner of the garden).

A condescending Gwendolen holds her nose so high that she fails to notice. But it's only a matter of time.

Here we have an engaging, conversational piece with a pair of jovial performances at its centre.

Uneventful plot-wise, perhaps, but a well-crafted, amusing effort nonetheless.

Traynor is not out to copy Wilde, nor does she give Earnest a 'sequel', per se.

Instead, she merely carries the torch to her colourful destination; a fascinating flash-forward complete with sharp one-liners, feisty put-downs and hilarious quarrels.

Worth a look.

Running until September 6 HHHII