An interesting look at London’s high society, A Woman of No Importance is one of the plays that will be staged at the Shaw Festival 2016. The Festival Theatre is the venue for this play that will be showcased between May 29 and October 22. Oscar Wilde’s humorous yet insightful tale of the disparity in society’s rules for men and women unfolds during a party at the country house of Lady Hunstanton.
A Woman of No Importance Plot Overview
At the party, marriages and relationships are discussed, people’s lives are analysed and secrets tumble out. A hot topic of discussion is Lord Illingworth a bachelor and a flirt, with a well-set career. There’s also Mrs Arbuthnot who is a widow, her son Gerald, and other interesting characters who have their own quirks. An astute observer of all the happenings at the party is an American girl Hester Worsley. Her frank observations and sharp opinions about the shallowness of the people in London’s high society give an interesting twist to the proceedings. During the party, a big secret tumbles out that affects the lives of some of those present in the house.
Through the situations in the play, Wilde depicts the different set of rules that govern men and women, and how women are often treated unfairly. During certain incidents, men get away lightly while women bear the brunt and are often ostracised by society. These issues are fairly prevalent even today and that makes this play relevant to the current time. Despite the serious nature of the theme, the treatment of the play is witty with fascinating characters and delightful dialogues.
Wilde wrote the play for Herbert Beerbohm Tree, actor-manager of London’s Haymarket Theatre and it was staged for the first time in 1893. It was successful and among those impressed with the play was the Prince of Wales who attended the second performance.
Shaw Festival Production
Theatre lovers can enjoy this lovely play at the Shaw Festival that has also staged other plays of Oscar Wilde in its previous editions. A Woman of No Importance has been directed for the festival by Eda Holmes whose sophisticated take on the play will only enhance the social commentary that Wilde delivered through his writing. She brings to the play a novelty that will entertain the audience and also surprise them. Recommended for ages 12+, the talented cast and crew of the play bring alive Wilde’s insights on high society at the festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
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