An Ideal Husband

14 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

May, 2018

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Travelled with

Adult family

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Susan Hampshire simply is Lady Markby in this play, she twitters and whitters gloriously, all the while delivering Oscar Wilde’s delicious, witty lines with utter naturalness. This is a drawing room comedy, satire in places, with touches of farce in Act III. It comments on the roles of husbands and wives in marriage, politicians and political mistakes, with blackmail and romance thrown in for good measure. And, as the villain, an adulterous widow. Stir all this in a pot, add Wilde’s wicked words and you have an excellent evening’s entertainment.

Nathaniel Parker plays Sir Robert Chiltern admirably, the noble politician with a skeleton in his cupboard. His wife, who adores him, for he is the ideal husband, greater than other mere mortals, is elegantly portrayed by Sally Bretton. Their best friend, the theoretically dim, lounge lizard Viscount Goring, who demonstrates an admirable level of quick thinking when needed, is prefect for Freddie Fox, with his father played by Edward Fox, in a real life father son moment. The endless exasperation Fox senior shows on stage may indeed reflect that of a biological parent! Goring’s love interest, Miss Mabel Chiltern, offers Flora Omole the opportunity to express flirtatious naughtiness that finally wins her the man of her dreams.

Our villain, Mrs Cheveley, fabulously brought to life by Frances Barber with her gravelly voice so suited to the role, is beautifully thwarted in the end.

The play is staged traditionally and this served the audience well. Wilde’s prose rang out clear, delivered with just the right amount of emotion and great comedic timing. The messages Wilde proffers hold true today – no man or woman is totally perfect, successful marriages require compromise and politicians beware – secrets will catch up with you! And never underestimate that foppish friend, they may have unexpected, hidden depths.

All in all, great fun in an intimate theatre that lends itself to this play very well!

Jennie Carr

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