An Ideal Husband (Greenwich Playhouse) 01 May 2010

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A highly successful performance of Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ from CandyKing Theatre sent a highly appreciative audience away in very good spirits to face the cold and rain of a Saturday night in Greenwich.  Perhaps the standout performance was that of Kath Perry as the grande dame Lady Markby, while Peter Rae was also very impressive as Lord Goring and Judith Quin obviously had a very good time–and gave the audience one–as the adventuress Mrs Cheveley.  At times I couldn’t hear what Kate Sandison (Lady Chiltern) was saying–which may be in part due to the long, narrow shape of the space–while she did generally seem to be underplaying.

At the interval I spoke to a couple of my fellow audience members and none of use could work out how Wilde was going to rescue Sir Robert Chiltern from the clutches of Mrs Cheveley, but manage it he did, with a device worthy of Shakespeare for sheer dottiness.  And for long periods the play was bathed in a Shakespearean glow (it was really that good) before ending with a Shakespearean moral about needing to take people for the fallible creatures they are.

Women are not meant to judge us, but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. Pardon, not punishment, is their mission. Why should you scourge him with rods for a sin done in his youth, before he knew you, before he knew himself? A man’s life is of more value than a woman’s. It has larger issues, wider scope, greater ambitions. A woman’s life revolves in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man’s life progresses. Don’t make any terrible mistake, Lady Chiltern. A woman who can keep a man’s love, and love him in return, has done all the world wants of women, or should want of them.

Well, up to a point Mr Wilde.  Strange that while you often see rather strained claims of contemporary relevance made for a staging of a classic, in this case the conjunction of a General Election in real life with the play’s political scandal, places in the Cabinet at stake, Liberal Women’s Association and so on passed unremarked.

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