Can Oscar Wilde’s The Importance Of Being Earnest really be performed with only two men in the cast? The performers, Jon Haynes and David Woods of British comedy duo Ridiculusmus, believe so, and audiences in the UK appear to agree after a successful year-long tour of the show.
Ridiculusmus’s interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s classic text has the two performers playing all the roles, sometimes with the change of a complete costume, other times with a change of wig or hat as they perform such characters as Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen Fairfax and John Worthing.
The Importance Of Being Earnest is headed to Sydney for a season at the Opera House from 22 March. Jon Haynes believes not only would Wilde approve of what they have done to his show, but that all other theatrical works are now also fair game.
I do believe Oscar Wilde would very pleased, as it is irreverent and anarchic, as he was, Haynes says.
I think he would enjoy this as it is really very solid. But these days, I think anything can be done by two people, or even by one person. Or, frankly, in this age, even without people on stage at all and just done by a computer or a mobile phone.
So, can theatre audiences expect new interpretations of stage blockbusters like Les Mis?bles or Nicholas Nickleby? You never know, but anything is fair game -“ absolutely, Haynes says.
Haynes refuses to reveal too many details of how he and Woods interpret all the characters in The Importance Of Being Earnest, who are sometimes all in the same scene at the same time.
He does admit that the way the characters are presented is what keeps the audience guessing -“ and laughing -“ throughout the performance.
There is a fascination for the audience of how we are going to get through the rest of the scene when they know something else is coming, Haynes says.
Like, I might already be playing four characters but there are more to enter the scene.
The costumes changes are probably the toughest part of the show. It is actually very athletic. Our dresser actually limbers up before we go on -“ there is a lot of Velcro, swearing and contorted movements. I think what goes on in the wings would make for a night of equally good entertainment.
Ridiculusmus’s The Importance Of Being Earnest opens 22 March at the Playhouse of the Sydney Opera House. Bookings on 9250 7777.