Preview- The Importance of Being Earnest- Shadow Players


There is a reason why The Importance of Being Earnest remains one of the most popular classics of British literature portrayed on stage: the wit, irony and the jokes used in every character's line makes this piece of art timeless and evergreen. Oscar Wilde, a fine observer of human race, summed up society's problematics of that time pretty efficiently. 


It is no surprise that The  Shadow Players, enthusiast of classic literature pieces, have opted for one of the greatest British playwrights of all time with the addition of a twist of Hong Kong. Their aim is to make Western classics approachable to the local audience.


Shadow Players' latest project will be on stage later this week from the 15th of September through the 16th (with one matinee on Friday afternoon). The cast and crew of the Shadow Players all loved the work of Wilde, so Earnest was a natural choice for these budding thespians because it's a classic choice for Wilde's wit and wonder.


Director and Producer, Joseph Lin said, “Earnest makes fun of Victorian Britain’s fussiness about institutions such as marriage,class, and ‘proper’ behaviour; and that irreverent and satirical spirit is just perfect for Hong Kong. We didn’t have to change much to make the story immediately relatable and relevant. "



We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Joseph about this upcoming show and about the Shadow Players love of theatre. For those of you who might not know, Oscar Wilde was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is known for his sassy quotes, 7 plays and his novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray".  


The Importance of Being Earnest is his most well-known work, for his satirical study of marriage, social customs and the pursuit of love. 


"Oscar Wilde is one of those writers who just sticks to your mind because he is so stylish and quotable, too," says Joseph. (I can resist everything except temptation...) His language is legendary, and Earnest has been a lot of fun just to read out loud!"


Earnest was a dream project for the Shadow Players who all met as undergraduates at various universities across Hong Kong. Most of them attended The Chinese University of Hong Kong and consider themselves friends first. Known for their signature style and twists to classics, Shadow Players took no time switching the era of Earnest to modern times and Hong Kong. (Who couldn't forget their previous production of The Modern Learned Ladies of MidlevelsMid-Levels).


"We brought Earnest to modern-day Hong Kong because we’d like to emphasise how timeless and relevant Wilde is... His caricatures of younger and older lovers, overbearing aunts, disciplinarian tutors with a hidden romantic side are every bit as applicable in Hong Kong as it would be in Victorian Britain." With a timeless classic like Earnest, don't expect them to stray too far from the wonderful material for sake of making it more relevant for modern audiences. 


"In our adaptation, we took Wilde’s language very seriously, and we made sure to remain as faithful to the original as possible. We even counted the syllables of surnames and place names to make sure they still work with the original text’s rhythm and kept our edits to a minimum. The real deal is always the best, and we always make sure we do justice to the plays we choose."



Expect to see your usual Shadow Players faces in this show, like Joseph and previous Heckler nominees like Minna Cheung. But it is a little different as their professor, Julian Lamb has passed on the directing baton. They Joseph and Assistant Director Yolanda So worked with the cast as a collective and made all many blocking decisions as a group. Audiences are sure to love The Importance of Being Earnest for its wit and fast-paced banter. 


"This play is has a lot of funny moments, but my favourite has to be when Algy finds out that Cecily had gone ahead and gotten herself engaged without having ever met the man. Algy’s emotional journey is a rapid roller-coaster...No one can’t help but be taken in by Wilde’s amazing ability to craft a scene."


Shadow Players hopes their Earnest comes across as approachable, relevant, and above all funny to Hong Kong audiences. They worked hard to make it accessible to young audiences and worked it so the audience won’t need to know about the history of Victorian Britain to appreciate Wilde's point of view.


"We want to think that we have captured Wilde's British humour and presented it in a youthful and energetic way!"


The Importance of Being Earnest opens this week from the 15th and 16th, with showtimes at 7:15pm and a Saturday matinee at 3:15pm at Sheung Wan Civic Centre Lecture Hall. Running time is 90 minutes. Tickets are currently available through URBTIX: with prices at $240 for standard, $120 for full-time students.


Enjoy 10% off for purchases of 10-15 standard tickets, and 20% off for 16+ standard tickets. For more information on the Shadow Players or to contact them about discounts, please visit their Facebook Page.


For more information on The Importance of Being Earnest, click here.

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