An Ideal Husband

It seems like a production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest comes along every five minutes; I really wish someone would put on a professional revival of one of his other plays. In the meantime, I need to rely on amateur dramatic groups for my Wilde fix. Charm Offensive’s Acting Gymnasium is presenting a three-play season at Theatro Technis in north London, and I attended a performance of An Ideal Husband.

This play tackles themes of blackmail and corruption, honour and morality, as Sir Robert Chiltern is blackmailed by Mrs Cheveley for something he did several years ago. While it sparkles with Wilde’s wit, it sees the amusing playwright in a more serious mood, asking whether it is appropriate to castigate someone for a mistake they made in the past. I would love to see a professional production of this play.

Still, this amateur production, adapted and directed by Gavin McAlinden, was an enjoyable one. Slightly overshadowed at the beginning by the too-loud music playing, distractingly, throughout the first act, it gave a positive impression overall with well-drawn characters and plenty of laughs. I was particularly impressed by the actors playing Lord Goring and Miss Mabel Chiltern, whose courtship provides a lighter subplot, but the protagonists did a good job too. If you would like to see this rarely-seen Wilde play, you could do worse than this production.

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