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An Ideal Husband

by on 30 June 2020

Out of Darkness

An Ideal Husband

by Oscar Wilde

Teddington Theatre Club, zoomed until 28th June, then on-line on YouTube

Review by Heather Moulson

 This production of Oscar Wilde’s dark play An Ideal Husband was part of the ambitious Wilde Weekend, put on by Teddington Theatre Club via Zoom.  I was particularly drawn to this play, because despite its well-known title, it doesn’t have such a significant high profile as, for instance, The Importance of Being Earnest.

With four acts full of blackmail and political corruption, the play could have easily fallen into the trap of being dry and overlong.  However, the strong performances and sharp direction brought it up with buoyancy.

As the vibrant and conniving Mrs Cheveley, Deb McDowell, with her strong entrance and consistency made her highly watchable.  Bordering on menacing, she carried the weight of her loaded encounter with Sir Robert Chiltern (Dave Brickwood) and his charismatic wife Lady Chiltern (Heather Stockwell).

The excellent Ian Kinane, as Viscount Goring, the real catalyst to the plot, gave us a highly convincing performance, endearing while capturing the smugness of the over-privileged.  I particularly liked the humorous exchange with John Bellamy as his dour and disappointed father, Lord Caversham.   It was one of many priceless interactions through the play.  The very flexible Daniel Wain also did not disappoint us with humour, covering three roles of both butlers and the effervescent Vicomte de Nanjac.  Both of these actors carried the strong comedy element in what could be one of Wilde’s darker pieces. 

Each act ended with a gentle climax, and the intervals were smoothly timed, this being a difficult handle in Zoomland.

The actors were flawless generally, and relaxed into each opening scene, and used their space well on the split screens.   Mrs Cheveley conveyed the blackmailing element with great conviction, giving us razor-sharp interaction between her and Sir Robert, and with Viscount Goring.  The hostile exchanges with Lady Chiltern and other ladies were also lively.  Their witty condemnations of the woes of men and marriage were succinct.  This also applies to the honest and frank confrontation between the Chiltern’s.

Despite my claims of An Ideal Husband being a dark play, unsurprisingly, there were many witty and memorial lines.  Viscount Goring’s admiration for stupidity stays with me, as well as many profound comments.  Additionally, Sir Robert reflecting on his foolish and weak younger self added another dimension to his character.

I felt the four acts moved nicely, and with a notable cards-on-the-table confrontation with Goring and Mrs Cheveley bringing us towards the end.

The period costumes were authentic and well placed, and make up was thorough.  A labour of love under these lockdown circumstances that came up trumps, I would highly recommend watching this play on YouTube on TTC’s Wilde Weekend

Heather Moulson, June 2020

Photography by Rebound Photography and Teddington Theatre Club

An Ideal Husband  may be seen on YouTube as part of Wilde Weekend (at 6hrs 50mins)

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  1. Wilde Weekend | Mark Aspen

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