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The Importance of Being Earnest (2011)

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2 June 2011 (USA)  »

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Brian Bedford's final film. See more »

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Where is it?
17 August 2012 | by See all my reviews

I saw this on Broadway at the American Airlines Theatre in March 2011. I thought it was the best live performance I have seen of the funniest comedy in the English language. The entire cast is excellent, with Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell a standout, second only to Edith Evans's definitive performance of that role. It is a fairly complete rendering of Wilde's text done with period costumes and sets, deleting only the superfluous subplot about Algernon's creditors that is usually left out of stage productions.

I read that the performance had been filmed on stage for eventual showing in theatres, but I have never heard of it being shown anywhere. I live in the Washington D.C. area, and if it was ever shown here, I didn't hear about it. Does anyone know whether the film has been shown or if there are plans to release it on DVD?

I certainly hope it comes out on DVD at some point, since there is a paucity of good media versions of this great play. I'm not a big fan of the 1952 film. Despite the presence of Edith Evans, the film's rather lumbering pacing doesn't capture the flow of the play. I don't like the 2002 version much either - neither the casting nor the screenplay are quite right. By far the best version I know of is the 1965 Angel Players recording, which features Edith Evans along with John Gielgud as Jack and Pamela Brown as Gwendolyn. It was this superb recording that caused me to fall in love with the play in the first place, and I still think it's the best media version of IOBE ever done. Unfortunately, it was never re-released in any other format, so you will have to find a copy of the original two-LP set if you want to hear it.

Considering the need for a truly great version of this great play to be made available to schools, libraries, etc. so that new generations can discover it, I hope there will eventually be a DVD release. I want one for myself, too.


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