An Ideal Husband is a story of greed, morals and honour, written in 1895 by Oscar Wilde. Sir Robert Chiltern is a man that seems to have everything. He has a successful career and a loving wife, but when Mrs. Cheveley arrives from Vienna, she brings a secret from his past which threatens to destroy his current lifestyle. He is left with a choice between doing what is right and losing everything or maintaining the status quo.
The set in this production is impressive, with a wall of glass greeting the audience. The stage features a number of glass doors, complete with fan lights, which are moved through the space to create the various rooms of this Victorian world. Every inch of the small stage is used and there is great flow and movement in the early parts of the production. It is also another chance for Peter O’Brien to show his talents, and the costumes create the elegance associated with the upper class of this era.
There is a strong ensemble cast with thirteen actors in total. A lot of the minor characters have speaking roles in the first act at the Chiltern’s party. The characters bounce off each other well, with the many quick and witty retorts that you expect from Wilde. This play is the home of many of his best lines, and they have lost none of their edge. The play really comes to life after the interval, when the minor characters are jettisoned and it focuses on the major players. Marty Rea plays Lord Goring, and he is perfect for the part, with his usual dandy like self. The scenes between Goring and Mrs. Cheveley (Aoibheann O’Hara) are among the best in the piece.
This play is directed by Ethan McSweeny who previously had great success at the Gate with ‘A Streetcar named Desire’ which ran last summer, and received much praise and plaudits. While this play never captures the highs of his earlier production, it is a strong piece and can be very funny at times. At a little less than 3 hours, it is a long night at the theatre, so prepare yourself! It’s worth it though for this fine production of one of Wilde’s best works.
An Ideal Husband runs at the Gate Theatre until June 14th.
Director – Ethan McSweeny
Set Designer – Francis O’Connor
Costume Designer – Peter O’Brien
Lighting Designer – Sinéad McKenna
Sound Designer – Denis Clohessy
Assistant to the Director – Aoife Courtney
Phipps – Simon Coury
Miss Mabel Chiltern – Siobhán Cullen
The Vicomte de Nanjac – Paul Curley
The Countess of Basildon – Maeve Fitzgerald
Sir Robert Chiltern – Garrett Lombard
Lady Marchmont – Elizabeth Moynihan
Lady Markby – Marion O’Dwyer
Mrs Cheveley – Aoibheann O’Hara
Mason – Karl O’Neill
Mr Montford – Shane O’Reilly
Lady Gertrude – Chiltern Lorna Quinn
Lord Goring – Marty Rea
Lord Caversham – David Yelland