“An Ideal Husband” by Oscar Wilde
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre.
I don't mind admitting that as a recent convert to the wonderful wit of Wilde, this play is an absolutely divine way to start the weekend.
The play revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. The action is set in London, and takes place over the course of twenty-four hours.
Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful Government minister. Well-off and with a loving wife, he has it all; that is until an old acquaintance makes an appearance and threatens to reveal a scandalous misdeed from Robert's past.
Does Robert have any friends that might come to his aid? Can they be trusted or are they scheming too? As the story unfolds, it's revealed that the man thought to be perfect is flawed, the man with all the flaws must do something right, and the question remains: what makes an ideal husband?
Plays about corrupt politicians are always going to be popular and topical and with the wit of Wilde, this is a worthy rival to “The Important Of Being Earnest” as his most popular and performed play.
Lorna Spencer (Lady Chiltern), Sue Drew (Lady Markby), John Anthony (Mason), Arnd Korn (Vicomte de Nanjac/Phipps), Alessia Molteni (Mrs Marchmont) and Ellie Searston (Lady Basildon), all wonderful roles and actors, and Wilde is very good as creating secondary comic, as well as memorable, characters.
Matthew Huntbach (Viscount Goring) was just an absolute joy to watch with his wonderful clipped speech. His comic timing brought out every bit of Oscar Wilde's wit, and at times you had to remember that this was acting because of the naturalness of the delivery.
Kathryn Edwards (Mrs Cheveley) is brilliantly aloof but nice to see when the chink in the defence wall is found, her vulnerability was great to see. Like a soap villain but with the ultimate cool exterior.
Sam Allison (Sir Robert Chiltern), shows the full emotional range of Chiltern as he tries to save his career and reputation, the look of panic at times was great to see when he could see his possible downfall approaching.
Emily Kevan (Mabel Chiltern). Another restrained and cool performance in this character-driven play, and a believable relationship with the Chilterns.
Marcus Wakley (Earl of Caversham) coupled with Matthew were a great pairing as father and son. they were spiky and comical, thanks to the brilliant script, but it takes a good actor to deliver the words to create the comedy. Without an actor the script is just words on a page and Marcus, with his vast experience knows how to deliver.
Max Bromley (Director / Set Designer) obviously has a feel for Wilde's work and the pace of the play varies from Act One to Act Two, which is a lovely contrast and makes for an exciting watch
I loved the costumes. Such elegance and glamour but touching on foppish, especially with Goring's suits, but this always lends itself to the comedy side. the rest of the costumes were as if you've been invited to a really posh do, so classy.
At first I wasn't sure about the set, but come Act Two, a more sense of decadence was shown, and it then created the difference in the more modern (for the era) abode of the man about town Goring, to the more mature home for the Chilterns. This again created that difference in status between the married couple and the single man.
You know me when it comes to the "little things" that add the reality to a play and I must mention something that maybe not many would notice. In Goring's home there was an open fire to which he kept alluding to, and lo and behold there was the impression of the flickering flames of an open fire, all created by magic by the lighting designer, Rose Dudley.
I am biased, slightly, being an Oscar Wilde fan, but this is a wonderfully entertaining piece of theatre with a great cast, and what a way to end the year. Go on, treat yourself to a pre Christmas treat and see this play.
“An Ideal Husband “ is being performed at the Nottingham Lace Market theatre until Saturday 17 December 2017.