The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1895)

Before there was Lady Bracknell, there was Lady Gay Spanker.  Smaller cast than LONDON ASSURANCE, but many similarities.  After the initial setup there is a long dead space of declining interest – until the final windup, which is good.

Act 1: Algernon’s flat in London

  • JACK enters under false name ERNEST
  • Town & Country | Ernest & Jack
  • The cigarette case – and its inscription
  • Bunbury
  • JACK won’t tell ALGY where his (JACK’s) country house is
  • But then ALGY overhears JACK tell GWENDOLEN where the house is

Act 2: The Manor House

  • ALGY arrives
  • JACK arrives early
  • JACK announces ERNEST has died
  • JACK wants to be baptised
  • JACK sees ALGY
  • GWENDOLEN arrives and discovers CECILY
  • The jig is up – everything is revealed

Act 3: The Manor House

  • The reckoning with LADY BRACKNELL
  • Brothers at last

London Assurance by Dion Boucicault (1841)

And again. 13+ characters.

Act 1: London – Sir Harcourt Hartley’s House

  • Starts with servants
  • Creditors are circling
  • Last day before CHARLES COURTLY returns to college
  • COOL is “the best liar in London”
  • CHARLES picked up by RICHARD DAZZLE
  • SIR HARCOURT will marry again
  • Great jokes about GRACE HARKAWAY’s age
  • The backstory on motivation for GRACE to marry SIR HARCOURT
  • SIR HARCOURT thinks his son is a paragon of virtue
  • Use of asides
  • MAX HARKAWAY does not know what CHARLES looks like
  • Lying about ages
  • MAX mistakes DAZZLE for CHARLES
  • But when corrected thinks DAZZLE is an old friend of CHARLES
  • HARKAWAY invites DAZZLE to the wedding in Gloucestershire
  • DAZZLE turns around and pawns off HARKAWAY’s invite as his own house
  • CHARLES being pursued by creditors

Act 2: Gloucestershire – Oak Hall – Lawn

  • Starts with servants
  • Zingers galore about layers
  • Jokes about MEDDLE’s name
  • CHARLES sees GRACE
  • CHARLES gives MEDDLE a false name – AUGUSTUS HAMILTON
  • Everyone arrives
  • Town & Country jokes
  • CHARLES sees his father
  • CHARLES denies he is SIR HARCOURT’s son
  • Hair jokes

Act 3: Gloucestershire – Oak Hall – Inside

  • MAX tells SIR HARCOURT he met DAZZLE at SIR HARCOURT’s house in London
  • LADY GAY SPANKER
  • Talk about hunting
  • SIR HARCOURT falls for LADY GAY
  • SPANKER is a wanker
  • SIR HARCOURT sends a letter to CHARLES in town
  • DAZZLE hatches a plan
  • Brilliant physical comedy: “Unhand me, sir, I insist”
  • CHARLES gives LADY GAY her mission

Act 4: Gloucestershire – Oak Hall – Inside

  • The letter: “It is near enough to the fire where it is.”
  • CHARLES “arrives”
  • SIR HARCOURT is caught by LADY GAY

Act 5: Gloucestershire – Oak Hall – Outside

  • COOL is not cool
  • Disguises
  • The escape is foiled
  • The duel

Act 6: Gloucestershire – Oak Hall – Inside

  • The exchange of an old fool for a young one
  • The race to preempt the duel
  • Some good Jew jokes

The Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey (1923)

Set in 1920.  First play written, middle in terms of chronology (when set).  60 pages.  A precious historical and dramatic document.  The terror of inner city guerrilla warfare comes alive.

(Year written/Year Set in)

Ordered by when written:

The Shadow of a Gunman (1923/May 1920)
Juno and the Paycock (1924/1922)
The Plough and the Stars (1926 /1915-16)

Ordered by dramatic chronology (when set):

The Plough and the Stars (1926 /1915-16)
The Shadow of a Gunman (1923/May 1920)
Juno and the Paycock (1924/1922)