Tickets and more information: https://www.nimaxtheatres.com/shows/an-ideal-husband/
Running until: 14th July 2018
cover photo from Google.
During my week off from work, I came across a cheeky discount ticket for a Tuesday matinee of the fourth production in the Classic Spring Company’s Oscar Wilde season at the Vaudeville. Having pleasantly enjoyed the first two productions A Woman of No Importance and Lady Windemere’s Fan, I could not resist. An Ideal Husband has the same ingredients as the productions predecessors; charm, wit and an excellent cast and was a joyful two and a bit hours that I spent on a Tuesday afternoon.
An Ideal Husband is an ensemble show where the storylines interweave. The play opens at a party hosted by Sir Robert Chiltern (played by the charming Nathaniel Parker), an important figure in the House of Commons. He then becomes blackmailed by Mrs Cheavley (a stand out sinister performance by Frances Barber), who happens to be an old schoolmate of his wife, Lady Chiltern, to support a fake scheme otherwise she plans to release a letter that reveals Sir Chiltern may not have earned his fame and fortune honestly. This storyline sets up the overarching theme of deceit and power throughout the play and creates an interesting dialogue about how we perceive people.
Lady Chiltern is played fantastically by Sally Bretton, who brings Lady Chiltern’s sharp edge and morals to the forefront of her character as she frequently comments on how she could never forgive a person if they’ve done something that could stain their pure reputation. I don’t know if Oscar Wilde intended to have this part of her characterisation as humorous, but this seriously made me laugh because I thought of how that is exactly what corners of the internet can be like. And it really hit me on how relevant and ahead of it’s time Oscar Wilde’s work is. A private secret that could stain one’s reputation? How tangible. It seems to be fate that I saw this play in the same week that A Very English Scandal started airing on the BBC.
Two other stand outs in the show were Freddie Fox and Faith Omole as Lord Goring and Faith Chiltern. The pair are a match made in heaven, keeping their interactions light and cheeky while still humorously bantering at each other. Fox’s father Edward Fox also stars as Lord Goring’s father the Earl of Caversham. I did worry if a real life father/son duo playing a father/son duo on stage was perhaps going to be corny. But instead, it made the production all the more funny, particularly with a recurring joke about how constantly disappointed the Earl of Caversham is in his son. I hope that life doesn’t imitate art in this case. The entire acting ensemble are a delight to watch but I couldn’t help but feel the cast was a bit overpopulated. Some actors only appear at the start of the party and then that’s it, which seems to be a bit of a waste. Although saying that, while the gorgeous set designed by Simon Higlett changed over, the scene transitions were performed beautifully on the violin by Samuel Martin, who also doubled as a footman at Sir Chiltern’s.
If you don’t manage to get to London to see this brilliant production, then you can catch the cinema broadcast on the 5th June or you can head to the Theatre Royal Bath from the 18th July to the 4th August. You can find tickets and more information about that at https://www.theatreroyal.org.uk/event/an-ideal-husband/
Until next time,