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The “Importance of Being Oscar” at The Loft Cinema in Cobourg

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The “Importance of Being Oscar” by Irish playwright Micheál mac Líammóir, not to be confused with “The Importance of Being Ernest”, is a monologue in two Acts about the magnificent but tragic life of Oscar Wilde. There will be four performances at The Loft Cinema in Cobourg from June 22 to 25, 2017. The play, written in the late 1950s, was first performed in 1960 by Mr. mac Líammóir himself.

Wilde was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist and poet in the late Victorian period. He achieved fame at a very young age, but it was notoriety that was his downfall. Wilde had a very public relationship with the son of the 9th Marquis of Queensbury. Queensbury set out to destroy Wilde with the aid of the English establishment, which had taken umbrage at Wilde’s literary critique of their outdated social norms and moral hypocrisy. They found their foil in a draconian criminal law enacted in 1885 when Wilde was in his heyday and aimed at male homosexuals. Over 50,000 gay men were convicted between the law’s inception and its repeal in 1967. That law was adopted in Canada and repealed in 1969 when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.

The story is sad, but it is peppered with humour thanks in part to Oscar Wilde’s writings. The actor, Paul Rapsey, takes on many characters in this hour and half long presentation, which contains snippets of Wilde’s writings. Mr. Rapsey is best known locally for his 2016 performance of “Bed Among the Lentils”, a monologue by Alan Bennett, which ran last year in various venues in Ontario, Nova Scotia and England. Rapsey undertakes plays that challenge stereotypes. He hopes to ignite an audience’s imagination with a play’s words, rather than relying on pyro techniques.

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