The Importance of Being Earnest

Written by Oscar Wilde

Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th July, then Wednesday 18th to Saturday 21st July 2018

Directed by Mark Wakeman

Algernon wants to marry Cecily.

Jack wants to marry Gwendolyn.

Unfortunately Cecily and Gwendolyn both want to marry a man called Ernest. The only problem is it's the same man called Ernest. Or is it?

The course of true love never runs smooth, especially with the formidable Lady Bracknell on the loose who is determined that no one should marry anyone. Can the secret to this confusion really lie in an old, battered handbag?

Join Bench Theatre for this hilarious production of Oscar Wilde's most famous comedy.

AuthorOscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Wilde was born in Dublin and following extensive education under personal tutors, attended Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. A highly intelligent student, he won several prizes and scholarships.

Drawn by the opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, combined with larger social themes drew Wilde to writing drama. He wrote 'Salomé' in French, in Paris in 1891, but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, culminating in his masterpiece 'The Importance of Being Earnest' in 1895.

At the height of his fame and success and with two comedies on stage in London, Wilde sued his lover's father for libel, although the case was later dropped at trial. After two subsequent trials, Wilde was imprisoned for two years' hard labour, having been convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. In prison he wrote 'De Profundis', a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. He died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six.

PlayThe Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest (subtitled 'A Trivial Comedy for Serious People') was written in 1895 and received its premiere at the St. James's Theatre in London. The play's humour derives in part from characters maintaining fictitious identities to escape unwelcome social obligations and it is replete with witty dialogue. It satirises some of the foibles and hypocrisy of late Victorian society and is Wilde's most enduringly popular play - the last he ever wrote.

The Bench Production

The Importance of Being Earnest poster image

This play will be staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


John Worthing (Jack)Chris Vanstone
Algernon MoncrieffDan Finch
Lady BracknellIngrid Corrigan
Rev. Canon ChasublePeter Woodward
Merriman (Butler)Alan Welton
Lane (Manservant)Roger Wallsgrove
Gwendolen FairfaxFiona Bradley
Cecily CardewJo Langfield
Miss PrismSally Hartley


Director Mark Wakeman
Producer Jaspar Utley
Stage Manager Julie Wood
Assistant Stage Manager
Lighting Design
Lighting Operation
Sound Operation
Poster Design Dan Finch
Costumes Di Wallsgrove
Set Design
Front of House