Friday, February 12, 2016

Lady Windermere's Fan - Oscar Wilde

I read Lady Windermere's Fan because I was going to audition for a part - that of Lord Darlington.  As I see it Wilde never quite decides whether he is writing a comic satire, or something more serious - even realist in nature.  The result is a delightful play, nonetheless - Mrs Erlynne is a fantastic character, Lord and Lady Windermere as well.  Supporting them, more typically Wilde - The Importance of Being Earnest - are an array of idle rich caricatures who say clever things that are ultimately meaningless, or meaningless things that are contradictory and are comic because they are expressed with such seriousness.  The character of Darlington, however, reminds me of a 'piece of ill-digested cheese', as Scrooge might say.  Darlington had two key scenes.  In the first he is a fop, flattering Lady Windermere and courting a bad appearance so that people will not take him seriously.  In the second he is serious, no explanation given, proclaiming love and determined to leave the country if Lady Windermere will not have him.  I did not go for him then, imagining Darlington a shoe-in, a convenience to hold together a too-complex plot, one that Wilde - to return to the cheese - did not fully digest.  I imagine too that this is why Darlington - unlike the other serious characters - did not receive a fitting comic closure - he just disappears.  Finally, I imagine that Wilde might have made this a fantastic comic satire, or realist drama, if he had properly thought it through.  As it is Lady Windermere's Fan is delightful and flawed.

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