Ever since 1896, everyone even remotely connected with the theater has felt like they have something to add to Oscar Wilde‘s flawless body of work. 116 years later, little has changed. When we first heard of David Hyde Pierce’s decision to revamp The Importance of Being Earnest for the Williamstown Theater Festival, little could revive our lowered spirits. Especially because he plans to add a ‘Damon Runyon-esque twist’ to the characters, because of a percieved ‘identicalness’ between Runyon and Wilde’s written dialogue.
At a certain point, reading about this became so frightening (we’re big Oscar Wilde fans) that it began to seem almost brilliant. A thuggish cast? A Prohibition-era setting? David Hyde Pierce’s idea can either be the best one he’s ever had, or the worst thing the theatergoing public has ever seen—it really leaves no room for mediocrity. Which is kind of great, since mediocrity is the great plague of theater (and most art), or at least, the current American theater. Whatever the outcome, you have to admire the man for his risks. Hats off, David, and good luck. And do consider Roseanne Barr for the part of Lady Bracknell.