Last weekend (it seems so long ago now!), we went to see the Shakespeare Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve seen the play once before, and I’ve seen various snippets here and there, but I’ve never seen a production as lavish (two full sets — one interior, one exterior)! The actors used their classical training to e-nun-ci-ate each line with precision, often adding to the inherent humor of the dialog.
Mostly, though, I’ll remember the production as the place where I learned the meaning of farce. Prior to Earnest, I’d considered farce to be a type of broad physical comedy — things like the French comedies that the Shakespeare Theatre loves so (too) much, or the funniest play I’ve ever seen in my life — Noises Off, which involves a lot of Feydeau scenes, and precise timing for physical gags.
And yet, Merriam Webster (and the dramaturg for Earnest) don’t require any physical comedy for something to qualify as farce. Rather, it’s a type of comedy of the absurd — a comedy built around ridiculous situations and events (such as a woman who will only marry a man named “Ernest”).
By that definition, I like a lot more farce than I thought I did. After all, I love Frasier, and just about every episode of that show qualifies.
So, an enjoyable afternoon at the theater (or, theatre, as the Shakespeare folks would have it.) Are you a fan of farce?