High Society: Katherine Duncan-Jones on a Production of Wilde's Classic Which Rises above Shallow Realism. (Theatre)

By Duncan-Jones, Katherine | New Statesman (1996), March 18, 2002 | Go to article overview

High Society: Katherine Duncan-Jones on a Production of Wilde's Classic Which Rises above Shallow Realism. (Theatre)


Duncan-Jones, Katherine, New Statesman (1996)


Although presented as a luscious period piece in Peter Hall's production, Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) is surprisingly modern. We might think that it would be impossible to persuade a 21st-century audience to care about Mrs Erlynne's desperate desire to be readmitted to society -- in Wilde's parlance, the group of moneyed aristocrats within which men are encouraged to be amusingly "bad" while ladies are required to maintain unblemished reputations. But whether or not society still exists, in the Margaret Thatcher sense, versions of Wilde's certainly do. Ambitious Englishmen are as keen as ever to form themselves into mutually affirming clubs defined at the edges by others, often mature women, whom they conspicuously banish. This is especially so in politics and the media. For Mrs Erlynne, read Gwyneth Dunwoody, Elizabeth Filkin or Janet Street-Porter.

Wilde's earliest social comedy is wonderfully economical, well written and well plotted. Joely Richardson is a lovely, elegant, innocently snobbish Lady Windermere who seems also vulnerable and alone. She is too much in need of the mother she has never known to be able to function properly as a mother herself. Though eventually crucial in the denouement, her baby is confined to the wings. Wilde does not even tell us, as his contemporary J M Barrie surely would have done, whether Lady Windermere finds a moment, between tea and dinner, to look in on the nursery. But it is clear that her exquisitely furnished drawing room -- designed by John Gunter -- will never feel the touch of sticky fingers.

Act One belongs to Lady Windermere, and it's as well that the fascinating Mrs Erlynne is not seen until Act Two, for there is no doubt that, as soon as she appears, Vanessa Redgrave completely upstages her real-life daughter. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

High Society: Katherine Duncan-Jones on a Production of Wilde's Classic Which Rises above Shallow Realism. (Theatre)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.