This is a brilliant play written by Oscar Wild. From the first dialogue, I knew I’m in for a treat. And yes indeed I was. There was so much in this play – humour, satire, witty dialogues, drama, excitement, sensitivity and a heartwarming story full of wisdom. All of these features were clustered into a Four-Act play. If this is not brilliance, what is?
Writing a short work is quite challenging. One has to balance the elements very carefully. And it is by no means an easy task. But Oscar Wild has had no difficulty in accomplishing this feat. Most of his works are short and they are nothing but great literary productions. I have not read many classical playwrights to draw comparisons. Other than Wild I have only read Shakespeare and Henrik Ibsen. I’ve enjoyed their plays, it is true. But to me, Oscar Wild is one step ahead of them.
This is a very sensitive play. Under humour and satire, there is depth and wisdom. The story takes us deep into Victorian marital relationships, the ideals surrounding them, the myths and the realities, and how susceptible they are. The story also brings to light the deception that is forced upon women with the full sanction of the society to enter into marriage, to make an advantageous match. Underneath the fine layers, there is the hypocrisy of convention and etiquette of the upper class. There are also secrets, lies, and blackmail in abundance carried out shamelessly. With his ingenuity, Oscar Wild exposes all this ugliness in his play under the guise of satire. Even the upper-class theatergoers, could enjoy it and laugh at their own follies. But what struck me most is the extent of a mother’s love and sacrifice that she can make for her child which Oscar Wild has so sensitively portrayed. It was the ray of light that illumined the beautiful side of this dark and ugly picture.