The Importance of Being In New York

Posted: March 3, 2012 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives

Oscar Wilde was one of the most beloved writers of the 19th century. He penned a wide variety of works such as novels, like the Picture of Dorian Gray, or plays such as Salomé. One of his most famous works, however, is The Importance of Being Ernest, a comedic play that explores false identities (obviously Wilde thought they were necessary to the escape the people you don’t want to spend time with), and of course, lots of romance.

The play, originally set in Victorian England, is about to get a revamp. Tony award winner David Zippel is giving the show a makeover, setting it in New York City and making all the characters obsessed with modern day social mobility (so basically, who’s going to the most glamorous parties, who’s doing coke in the bathroom – that kind of stuff). So, instead of Jack and Algernon having a house in ‘town’ (because London wasn’t considered a city in the 19th century? Their lingo confuses me) and an estate in the country, they’re living it up with an apartment in the Trump Tower and a beach house in East Hampton.

Adapting an older story to a modern setting is a very Shakespearean thing to do (West Side Story and of course, the Lion King). Zippel says he won’t even change most of the lines, making this an old-fashioned play in a modern world.

I’m curious to see what will come of this switch, but I think that the plot has the potential to be set anywhere – why not New York?

-Diana Pearl


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