Insider trading, shady international sweetheart deals, blackmail, the perfect political couple, rising star (almost) brought low by long-ago indiscretions – it’s as if Oscar Wilde were here in Washington. The Shakespeare Theater’s production of An Ideal Husband played well to a packed Washington crowd on opening night, as people chuckled along at how little had changed in 100+ years.
The only notable difference between then and now? Lord Goring, the play’s eligible and dandy bachelor is the one constantly being harrassed by his father, the Earl of Caversham, to marry “Think of the Earldom!” Meanwhile, single gal Mabel Chiltern is left to flit and flirt – and scheme to marry, of course – as she likes. Maybe it’s because her parents are deceased and her brother’s her guardian …
The play featured two wonderful sets – the Chilterns house, complete with a grand double staircase and Lord Goring’s metrosexual, ceramic vase filled rooms. And one terrific set change between two major scenes in the second half.
I thought the first half was a tad long – but that might have been the Indian food and South African wine at the root of my impatience. I knew the story and was eager for them to get to the denouement. The second half more or less flew, as the characters we now knew went from scheme to counter-scheme to resolution.
I love how modern themes sometimes aren’t quite so(ley) contemporary.