Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Happy Little Oxonians Enjoy a Garden Play

On Sunday evening, I had one of those perfect experiences that Oxford offers from time to time. After deliberating on a punt, a group of us took off to see the Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest presented by the New College MCR. The setting itself was almost enough - New College is breathtaking.

There were around 200 of us perched on fold-out seats or lounging on rugs on the grass. We were encouraged to bring picnic food and drinks and the classics - Pimms, strawberries and chocolate - were not forgotten. It was warm and yellow, with Spring things in the air diffusing the light. We were boxed in by a couple of charming, low-hanging trees and the cloisters which served as the back drop for the play.

The photographs below were taken on another night. I am glad that I can use them here (Thanks Anu) as I didn't take my camera, but they don't quite portray just how light and lulling it was on the Sunday. It seemed more like the photos above, but dreamier.

photos by: Anu Devi

The student actors did a pretty terrific job at capturing Wilde's wit and satire. Also, the director who opened and closed the night was deliciously eccentric which helped set the tone. I know one of the cast members and I can say unreservedly that she was a stand-out. The famous lines made everyone smile and by Act 2 we were all sitting back and laughing together. By the end, were only too happy to oblige the drinking needs of the cast and put our seats away before riding home on our bikes.

Here are some of the many gems for your pleasure. Got a bit carried away, so feel free to stop when you need to:

Really, if the lower orders don’t set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them?
Algernon, Act 1.

Girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don't think it right.
Algernon, Act 1.

Ah! That must be Aunt Augusta. Only relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner.
Algernon, Act 1.

Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life.
Lady Bracknell, Act 1.

I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.
Lady Bracknell, Act 1.

I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left.
Jack, Act 1.

Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out.
Gwendolen, Act 1.

If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.
Algernon, Act 2.

I don’t quite like women who are interested in philanthropic work. I think it is so forward of them.
Cecily, Act 2.

Cecily: When I see a spade I call it a spade. Gwendolen: I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.
Act 2.

Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
Algernon, Act 2.

Never speak disrespectfully of Society. Only people who can’t get into it do that.
Lady Bracknell, Act 3.

Untruthful! My nephew Algernon? Impossible! He is an Oxonian.
Lady Bracknell, Act 3.

Here's a picture I came across this morning (Wed) by Brett Tully, another Aussie student (we're everywhere!) and one who is very handy with a camera. For some more of his delightful pics of Oxford, click here.


Kate said...

If I am occasionally a little over-dressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.
Algernon, Act 2.

---Perfect! What a lovely night xx

Ink said...

That is absolutely lovely...the pictures AND the whole idea.

Good Enough Woman said...

I'm envious. And I love the phrase "happy little Oxonians."