• Melbourne Theatre Company: An Ideal Husband

My relationship with Oscar Wilde has been strained. It started with watching the film, A Good Woman, declaring that he surely could not have written something as boring, then committing myself to read his complete works. That was some years ago, and I admit that either my brain was asleep to his mastery, or tone and wit just can’t be fathomed when read silently in ones mind compared to acted out by professionals. When I have a spare 15 hours, I will try to re-read them to find out.

Watching An Ideal Husband, there was no denying the wit, ingenuity, absurdity and humour, that is Oscar Wilde. It was written in 1895. We have had over a hundred years of development, yet somehow, it seems we have not developed. The corruption of our leaders, the demands of those close to us, are still apparent today. The good news is, the humour still stands too, making this a poignant but delightfully funny spectacle.

The play’s story is a novel, but relatable, one. The protagonist, Sir Robert Chiltern (played by Simon Gleeson) is upheld as an honest and charming man. When he meets Mrs Cheveley, Christie Whelan Browne, he is trapped by his own past. An Ideal Husband covers serious themes of honesty, loyalty, love, and responsibility, all in words that dance off the stage and delight your mind.

Set in the Victorian Era, Director, Dean Bryant, will have you believe you are back in the late 1800s.  If you don’t like humour, go for the elaborate dresses and foppish suits, skilfully created by Set and Costume Designer, Dale Ferguson.

If the costumes don’t get you, the actors will. Despite the absurdity of the story, and the continual jests, you will believe you are in that ballroom. You will sympathise with each character as each reveals their weaknesses, and giggle loudly along with the rest of the audience. This is a funny play, a comedy to be exact. And a minute will not pass without at least one person in the audience listening close enough to register a joke and laugh. Other cast members include Gina Riley (famous for Kath & Kim), Michelle Lim Davidson and William McInnes (who I remember best from Sea Change). I particularly loved the performance from Michelle Lim Davidson, who played the vein but charming Miss Mabel. And that of Brent Hill who play the always talking, never saying anything, Lord Goring.

This play is entertainment at its best. You will laugh, you will ponder, you will leave with a renewed respect for Oscar Wilde…now to my reading, I will imagine this whole cast as I read every line.

Venue: Play House
Showing until 25 August 2018.