The Malta Independent 29 February 2020, Saturday

The Cutting Wit of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell comes to Teatru Manoel

Sunday, 26 January 2020, 17:37 Last update: about 2 months ago

At the end of January, Teatru Manoel and the MADC will bring us ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, guaranteeing audiences the combination of laudable nonsense and clever social commentary that only Oscar Wilde can deliver. Rebecca Cachia writes

"[A] man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing. Which do you know?" questions Lady Bracknell, one of Wilde's most memorable characters. The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the most popular plays in English literature, replete with colourful characters, clever language and highly amusing dialogue.

The play tells the story of two bachelors who create alter egos to escape their monotonous lives. They attempt to win the love of two women but become entangled in their tales of deception and disguise.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lady Bracknell is the terrifying mother of the lovely Gwendolyn. Stepping into her shoes in the coming weeks is Marylu Coppini, one of Malta's most renowned stage actors.

"Lady Bracknell is indeed a comedic character!" laughs Coppini. "She's a haughty, condescending Victorian woman. She married well, achieved a high position in society and is determined that her daughter does exactly the same.

"She is unsure about Jack Worthing/Ernest, Gwendolyn's suitor, and isn't afraid of making her feelings known - about pretty much everyone and everything! Despite being a bit of a tyrant, she's one of the play's most amusing characters with some of the funniest and best-known lines."

Coming from such a well-known play, the role of Lady Bracknell is coveted by most actresses. "In the past, I've mostly played comedic parts," continues Coppini, "but, there's an added challenge to convincingly portray Lady Bracknell as 'monstrous' - as Jack describes her - while still retaining the comedic element."

While new to playing Lady Bracknell, Coppini already knows the play first-hand because she directed a production of Wilde's comedy back in 1988. "Directing the play was a very daunting task," says Coppini.

"It was the first play I ever directed and I was conscious of it being the work of a genius and immensely popular. The responsibility of reaching the required standard in such a play is strongly felt - and this applies both when directing and acting.

"When directing, you need to ensure that the overall product reaches expectations by guiding your actors well. As an actor, you need to really get under the character's skin and do her justice. If you get it right, though, there's a great deal of satisfaction to be derived from knowing audiences and critics haven't been disappointed."

Directing the production is comedy stalwart, Malcolm Galea. And the ensemble also consists of other well-known thespians, including Davide Tucci, Edward Caruana Galizia, Maxine Aquilina, Michela Farrugia, Isabel Warrington, Michael Mangion, Martin Azzopardi and Edward Thorpe.

"It's always interesting to see how contemporary actors tackle a comedy first performed 125 years ago," says Coppini. "The play has a strong cast and director Galea has paid a lot of attention to the comedic delivery and timing of the lines. Wilde's inimitable wit and shrewd knowledge of human nature are at the core of the production.

"Wilde poked fun at Victorian upper and middle-class society in a way that caused audiences at the time to take a good look at themselves. But, this was done in such a light-hearted way that no one took offence - in fact, they delighted in the witty wordplay and humour. The play is a masterpiece in projecting the truth about frailties and aspirations - aspects that are as relevant today as when they were written!"

 

The Importance of Being Earnest will be performed at Teatru Manoel on 31 January, and 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9 February. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8pm and Sunday performances are at 7pm.

For bookings phone on 2124 6389 or visit www.teatrumanoel.mt


  • don't miss