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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshingly interesting read at A-level
I am currently studying The Importance of Being Earnest for my English Literature A-level and I can honestly say it is the best piece of writing I have studied so far. Funny, ironic and completely truthful, this play is based on people's behaviour, especially the behaviour of the aristocracy, which is, at times, nothing short of stupid, but that's where the humour lies...
Published on 4 July 2001

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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear, oh dear!
When this recording came out, I immediately ordered it, expecting a CD version of the recording available for decades on audio tape (also with Gielgud/Evans). NAXOS, however (and much to my chagrin), "regale" us (??) with a 1952 radio recording which is the aural equivalent of looking at an old oil painting that has been sandblasted and then hosed down with acid...
Published on 14 Nov. 2005


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5.0 out of 5 stars A trivial review for serious people, 17 Jun. 2010
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possessed.by.a.lemon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) (Audio CD)
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Speaking of mistaken identities, as The Importance Of Being Earnest very much does, I could put neither face nor cherished TV character to Prunella Scales' name upon initial inspection of the cast list for this 1977 BBC production. Then I put two faces to it. One was Margo from The Good Life and the other was Sybil Fawlty. Now I'm sure all of you know that it's the latter, but Google also tells me that Penelope Keith of Margo from The Good Life fame has also toured The Importance Of Being Earnest, so in many ways I feel doubly vindicated.

The important thing to take from all this is, I like Basil Fawlty's wife, I'm sure you like Basil Fawlty's wife, and you'll be dazed with happiness over Prunella Scales' presence here. In 2010 the rest of the cast may be even trickier for me to put a face to but there are solid performances to be found across the board - not to mention the performance of this 33-year-old radio recording itself, preserved to absolute perfection. If you've never seen the play on stage - or a film, TV or radio adaptation of it - before, this Classic Radio Theatre variation communicates Wilde's timeless wit flawlessly.

And now on to the question of why one might desire to add this 140 minute double-CD audiobook to their collection. It's unwaveringly faithful to the original four-act play, which either makes it a handy study aid, an enjoyable way to while away the hours on a Sunday or of not much use to someone who knows the play inside out. I fit in with the Sunday afternoon listeners, but whoever you are, you should join with my gratitude to the BBC for making these archival recordings available.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A trivial comedy for serious people....., 12 April 2010
By 
Wynne Kelly "Kellydoll" (Coventry, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) (Audio CD)
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The Ernest referred to in the title does not actually exist. He is a convenient invention of Jack Worthing as a cover for his own indiscretions. His friend Algernon also has an invented friend (Bunbury) who is an invalid that he has to visit in order to avoid unwanted family engagements. In order to meet Jack's niece Cecily Algernon pretends to be Ernest....but Jack has in the meantime decided to eliminate Ernest from his life and has told Cecily's family that Ernest has died! After much confusion and mayhem the true identity of Jack is revealed and the marriage of two young couples can proceed.

Wilde's subtitle for this play is "a trivial comedy for serious people". But the play is far from trivial. First produced in 1895, it makes fun of Victorian morality and challenges solemnity, pomposity and snobbery. The dialogues sparkles throughout - and there are plenty of "laugh out loud" moments.

This superb BBC production from thirty years ago is a real treat with a superb cast. Brilliant holiday listening!

On a more serious note it is interesting that at the beginning of the play "Ernest" is threatened with gaol because he owes a large bill to a hotel. He is told that going to prison will not be any problem as it will be reasonably comfortable with food and exercise provided. Prison was treated as a bit of a joke. But when Wilde was eventually sent to gaol (with hard labour) he was very badly treated and never recovered from the experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilde fun!, 26 Jan. 2012
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pacem et amorem (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) (Audio CD)
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This is my favourite of all of Oscar Wilde's fabulous works and I was delighted to receive it on CD - to be listened to at any time! With a fabulous cast who capture the sparkling wit and vitality of the script, this is classic Wilde at its best. This is certainly one to be carried "in a handbag" to be played wherever there is a free CD player.
I very earnestly and heartily recommend this as a perfect addition to any Wilde fan's collection and a wonderful introduction to his genius for those who have yet to discover it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good production, 21 Mar. 2010
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Ok, straight off, I'm a big fan of James Marsters so anything he appears in is great, but this audio CD really is a very good buy. Entertaining, with the added bonus of being acted out in front of a live audience who are totally into the storyline, and very convincing English accents from the American cast members. And Charles Busch makes Lady Bracknell his own, the "handbag" line not replicated even one iota from Margaret Rutherford. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite play of all, 8 Aug. 2010
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Short, sweet, beautifully written and full of punchlines that stick into the mind, Oscar Wilde's greatest work is a living example of quality, rather than quantity. 65-odd pages are all Wilde needs to ensnare and capture a reader into the upper class society of his day and all of their ludicrous mannerisms. There are hints of Wilde himself aplenty in Algernon and his dashing flamboyancy.

The play follows a standard three act structure, and can be read casually easily in one sitting. I can imagine, and indeed would love to have the opportunity to perform what would be an exceptionally enjoyable play to rehearse.

It is not overly long, it is not overly pretentious and the language is beautiful. It knocks some of Shakespeare's overblown works for six and then some. This should be standard order for every classroom in the country. Wilde is a great, and is simply not revered enough.

The cheap Penguin edition is for my needs perfect. Clearly set out, nice handy size, good typeface and a brilliant £2 price tag. It's worth £2 of anyone's money. And I also like having the opportunity to have Wilde's plays in individual editions, rather than the bulky anthologies.

Concrete 5 stars, please read it, you certainly won't regret it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not stuffy but fun... go on, give it a go!, 14 Aug. 2009
As I shopped for holiday books I had an idea that I'd like to read a play.... and I'd also been told by a couple of people that this was a good [and short] read.

As I was after a short read and a play, it fitted well. The idea of reading a play had come from talking with friends about how we'd read Macbeth at school, and how difficult it had been. The discussion had made me consider re-reading it but I remembered how heavy-going I'd found it the first time.

This came along as a willing substitute, and didn't disappoint. The use of language is really entertaining, the story is fun and there are some great comedy moments.

It's got a sort of flowery, "verbal-diarrhoeary" feel to it as the two main charactors in the opening act talk a load of linguistic rubbish at each other, using 20 words when 5 will do, but that's an essential part of the fun. It's witty, entertaining and I actually laughed out loud at several points. But mostly it just makes you smile to yourself and you roll with events as they unfold.

A really good book and I will certainly look out for it at the theatre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great reading with very nice music, 23 April 2012
This is a splendid reading of the famous Oscar Wilde comedy - full of all those witty quotations and paradoxes. We heard it whilst driving, on the car CD, which was a little difficult at times as the volume of some of the actors voices is quite low - much better played at home or over headphones. The music is not credited, but I'd be most surprised if it were not Mozart.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute joy, 13 April 2010
By 
R. WEST-SOLEY "Rich West-Soley" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) (Audio CD)
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This 1977 version of the play from the BBC archives is a delight to listen to - brilliantly cast by actors who show off the slicing wit to the very utmost. Prunella Scales is particularly apt as the ingenuous Cecily Cardew. The production is directed with a relentless energy which holds the attention throughout, making this a very accessible way to enjoy a classic piece of theatre.

The quality of the recording, spanning 2 CDs (full running time 2h20m), is also excellent, preserving a great classic radio production in top form for us to enjoy over thirty years later.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic, and a wonderfully tounge-in-cheek dramatisation, 7 April 2010
This review is from: The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) (Audio CD)
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I hardly need say that the Importance of Being Earnest is a real classic - Oscar Wilde at his tounge-in-cheek best. This radio play dramatises the script wonderfully, and is a delight to listen to - I would highly recommend it.

In case you don't know the play, it's the story of two society gentlemen in the 19th century, who each, for their own purposes, claims to go by the name Earnest. Pretending to be Earnest serves them very well to start off with, allowing them to propose to their respective loves. But things get a little sticky when the two 'Earnests' come face to face with one another and their various relations, and are exposed. Without wanting to give away the full plot, it is clear by the end of this 'trivial play' that it really is rather important to be earnest (or Earnest!)

I can't fault the BBC's dramatisation - it's full of very camp over-acting, but that's exactly how the play is written. And whilst the famous names mean little to me, they each lived up to their parts brilliantly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Handbags, 15 July 2010
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Alright, this is not the best production of this play ever, however it is amusing; Emily Bergl plays a delightful Cecily, and Sarah Zimmerman is a good Gwendolen, but Jill Gascoine is a joy as Miss Prism. Algernon and Jack are played with gusto by Matthew Wolf and James Marsters, but I think Charles Busch had the hardest job playing Lady Bracknell, as everyone thinks automatically of Dame Edith Evans in the part and makes it a hard act to follow. He did let us down a bit with the handbag speech, but other than that he was very good.The play jogs along briskly and is still very funny, although it would take a very bad cast to spoil Wilde's brilliant writing.So sit back and put your feet up and prepare to be entertained by this brilliant farce,one of my particular favorites from the pen of the brilliant Oscar Wilde you won't be disappointed the 2 hours just fly by.
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The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Classic Radio Theatre) by Oscar Wilde (Audio CD - 4 Mar. 2010)
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