Wilde and The Importance of Nothing

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Andrew Bennett/ Lar, Dylan Tighe/ Gerald and Mark O’Halloran (Robbie)

COMEDY set within a prison’s therapeutic services is the premise to ‘The Importance of Nothing’, which looks to the works of Oscar Wilde to defuse cultural homophobia.

Pan Pan Theatre had a big hit with this play last year at the Project Centre, Dublin and it comes to Limerick on April 13 and 14, stopping at Belltable during this tour.

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Oscar Wilde’s early script for ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was called ‘Lady Lancing’. And within ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ there is a reference to Lady Lancing by Lady Bracknell that can be taken as a suggestion that Lady Lancing preferred her “thoroughly experienced” French maid to her husband.

Pure Wilde, serving it back to the hypocritical ascendency that crucified him.

Bring your mind forward 200 years to the loops and layers to this year’s ‘The Importance of Nothing’ that mine his works vividly.

Lady Lancing lives again, this time as a drama therapist (Sonya Kelly) “who comes to the prison to do these anti-homophobia workshops around the works of Oscar Wilde,” explains Dylan Tighe who plays Gerald. Gerald, Lar (Andrew Bennett) and Robbie (Mark O’Halloran) are three prisoners in an Irish prison who sign up to these workshops “quite reluctantly, essentially out of a boredom. They reveal a whole deal about the prison, how it works, how the prisoners work.

“Two out of three of the principal characters are gay, Lar and Robbie, and Gerald is what you call borderline.”

He’s homophobic to boot. “Gerald is lost in the prison and in a way, is bullied by the other two prisoners.”

Tighe suggests we refer back to Wilde’s own experience of being imprisoned to view ‘The Importance of Nothing’ fully.

“It’s 100 per cent comedy, essentially a laugh a minute. Homophobia and prison life are serious topics in many ways but this treatment of them is irreverent and bawdy. I think of Oscar Wilde as a very subversive playwright in his day”.

Also a middleclass Irish man within the court of London aristocracy, and thus the outsider of piercing observation.

The cast of five is directed by Gavin Quinn, with Zia Holly on lighting and Si Schroeder on sound creating episodic hallucinatory states and a score that is menacing at times; www.limetreetheatre.ie