The Importance of Being Ernest Enough

A Comedy

Fiction - Drama
119 Pages
Reviewed on 12/10/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Inspired by Oscar Wilde's famous play, Tom Beattie's The Importance of Being Earnest Enough is a fresh take on one of the most famous works of the Irish legend. In this version, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff are lovers in 1894, London. Algernon somehow gets hold of Lady Margaret Windmere's iPhone and uses it for his own nefarious purposes. Meanwhile, Jack is engaged to Gwendolyn Fairfax, who is incidentally in love with Cecily Cardew, Jack's ward. While a proposal to marry Algernon off to Cecily is put forward by Jack, Letitia Prism and Augusta Bracknell hatch their own plans. To further complicate matters, a correspondent working for SHAM news is on the prowl. Can Jack and Algernon find a way to have the wedding of their dreams?

The Importance of Being Earnest Enough is a hysterically funny, wild rollercoaster of a ride that you don't want to get off. Tom Beattie's social commentary feels spot on, and he pulls no punches in making fun of the ridiculousness that prevails in society. Despite incorporating some of Wilde's most popular characters, Beattie's take feels fresh, unique, and utterly hilarious. The characters are as colorful as ever, and the author's prose style makes them pop out of the pages. Some of the banter between Jack and Algernon was laugh-out-loud funny, and the modern terminology used by the characters elevated the ridiculousness that made for a thoroughly entertaining reading experience. If you're a fan of Oscar Wilde or well-written satire in general, do not miss out on The Importance of Being Earnest Enough.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Oscar Wilde’s classics have charmed generations of theatre-goers. His ability to pun and twist the fates of life in such a way that life becomes an anachronism of what it’s not. His much-loved play, The Importance of Being Ernest, has challenged and entertained the masses for well over a century and yet one wonders what the controversial playwright might do if the late-nineteenth-century settings of his plays were immersed in the early twenty-first century complete with high tech gizmos and more acceptance, at least in some parts of the world, to individual differences. Oscar Wilde was homosexual, imprisoned for his homosexual acts: it makes one wonder how much the interactions of his characters reflect who he was in real life. After all, as the playwright wrote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Enter stage right one Wilde (no pun intended) fan, Tom Beattie, and life as seen in two conflicting centuries merge in an amazing remake of the old classic. Beattie’s The Importance of Being Ernest Enough takes Oscar’s classic and adds cellphones and i-Pads, YouTube and so much more, all while setting the stage in 1894, in a classic, upscale household complete with the butler and the domineering aunt. The themes of liars and cheats and what is true and what isn’t are still relevant and the cast is still as laid-back and comical as ever, but the future has invaded the past in an uncanny projection of twenty-first century fake news vibes in 1894. Very clever. The playwrights, both Beattie and Wilde, deserve a standing ovation as one waits with bated breath for the casting of both plays, perhaps performed back-to-back. Now wouldn’t that be entertainment at its best.

K.C. Finn

The Importance of Being Ernest Enough is a stage script written in the comedy genre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Tom Beattie. The book is an inventive retelling of the Oscar Wilde classic The Importance of Being Ernest, reframed through a highly modern lens that places the cast of the original in today’s world of technological dependence and social media addiction. The story follows lovers Jack and Algernon as their discovery of Lany Windmere’s iPhone gives them the opportunity for mayhem and social maneuvering through London society.

Taking a well-known and well-loved existing story in order to retell it in a setting well outside the context of the original is a bold risk for a writer to take with a new play. It takes an insightful understanding of what made the original work as well as an imaginative flair of one’s own to translate the characters into your new world whilst being both authentic to the original and a fresh tale in its own right. Tom Beattie, I’m pleased to report, is exactly the playwright for this job. Each of the characters makes the transition from Wilde’s work into Beattie’s, somehow managing to be recognizable to the source whilst also an original character. The sharpness of wit that we associate with Wilde’s work is present in abundance here but never falls into the trap of being a copy of the source material. The Importance of Being Ernest Enough is an exciting and dynamic play that uses its inspiration to tell a wryly observed modern parable.

Katelyn Hensel

The Important of Being Earnest Enough is a zany kick in the pants that made me want to dust off my old English Literature volumes to make sure I hadn't been sleeping through Sophomore lit class. Tom Beattie makes an effort to modernize and satirize the classic Oscar Wilde drama, adding in references to Youtube, Instagram, texting, etc. in a way that made me feel as though I finally understood what Wilde was originally getting at, with a lens more focused on LGBT issues than the original was able to during it's time.

Commentary in this retelling focuses around the same themes as the original play, including issues of class, social expectations, and lifestyles of the various classes but of course adds in the internet, social media, and how these are reflected differently between the haves and have nots of "today". That being said, I wasn't quite sure if it was set today, the late 1800s via some sort of sci-fi transport, or in some future dystopian social media wasteland. Either or any of these would be plausible! The characters are well fleshed out despite the short length of the play, and Algernon's dialogue particularly made me laugh. I'd love to see this as a sideshow or off-Broadway feature someday to see the characters real and on stage where they belong. I felt as though Beattie really succeeded in translating the play for today's audiences while adding some of his own flair and style to the banter and scenes. The Importance of Being Earnest Enough is definitely a play that English nerds will chortle at as they recline with their cup of tea and reflect upon how they themselves might be leading double lives like Jack and Algernon.

Astrid Iustulin

There are many ways to pay homage to a great writer of the past, and reinterpreting one of his greatest masterpieces in a modern way is one of them. In The Importance of Being Ernest Enough, Tom Beattie invites us to rediscover the world of Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, but this time many things are different for them. Jack and Algernon are gay, and Gwendolyn and Cecily are also involved with each other. How will it end? In addition to The Importance of Being Ernest Enough, the book also includes Another Tom & David Play, Enlightenment Lite.

I am not usually a big fan of reading adaptations of a classic novel or play, especially if it is a book that I particularly liked. This time, however, I am pleased to say that I made an exception because I enjoyed reading Beattie's work from start to finish. The Importance of Being Ernest Enough is a whirlwind of new and fun situations that make this comedy enjoyable to read. I liked that the setting is still the 19th century, but there are many references to objects of our time. In this way, Beattie makes the situations even more paradoxical and incredible. In addition to The Importance of Being Ernest Enough, I also liked reading Enlightenment Lite. This comedy, shorter than the previous one, concludes this beautiful book in the best possible way. I am glad I read The Importance of Being Ernest Enough, and I recommend it to any reader eager to find an unconventional story.