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Forget emojis - here’s how to speak the silent language of Victorian hand fan

Less rofl more ruffle.

The importance of being Earnest was all about “a handbag?!” but the hand fan is the key plot device in Lady Windermere’s Fan, another of Oscar Wilde’s classic comedies. Whole books have been written about how to use the Victorian accessory properly, with hundreds of gestures signalling everything from pure hatred to your relationship status. And you thought emojis could be ambiguous 🙃
Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde Season LIVE: Lady Windermere's Fan
In Wilde’s play, a birthday party goes wrong when Lady Windermere suspects her husband of having an affair - hence the need for much undercover messaging. Jennifer Saunders and Kevin Bishop lead a cast of comedy aristocracy in a new production at the Vaudeville Theatre; using our guide below you can decipher every secret signal when we broadcast the play live to the big screen on 20 March.

So flush your poo emoji, whip out your fans and try these out:
Signal: dropping a fan
Meaning: we could be friends 👊

Signal: moving the fan with the right hand
Meaning: I love another ⛔
Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde Season LIVE: Lady Windermere's Fan
Signal: leaving the fan hanging
Meaning: we will continue being friends (or how to friend zone someone)

Signal: fanning slowly
Meaning: I am married 💍
Signal: Holding the fan open and covering the mouth
Meaning: I am single 😏

Signal: holding the fan closed
Meaning: do you love me?
Lady Windermere's Fan Oscar Wilde Season LIVE: Lady Windermere's Fan

Signal: throwing the fan

Meaning: I hate you (basically the Victorian equivalent of throwing shade)


Signal: opening and closing the fan

Meaning: you are cruel 😢

 

Get Oscar Wilde Season LIVE: Lady Windermere’s Fan tickets and times.