An Ideal Husband
Sutton Arts Theatre return with Wilde society comedy 'An Ideal Husband' in a production worth waiting for.
The pandemic has been tough across the arts but theatres have been hit particularly hard. Amateur companies across the country are finally opening their doors and welcoming audiences back. They both need and deserve our support.
Oscar Wilde's delightfully witty third comedy after Lady Windermere's Fan and A Woman of No Importance is a real treat and the perfect mixture of humour and biting satire to tempt audiences back to this gem of a local theatre in the heart of Sutton Coldfield.
The 'ideal husband' of the play's title is, on the surface, Sir Robert Chiltern, a prominent politician with a hidden secret. Wilde's play, which premiered in London in 1895, peels back the respectable veneer of Victorian polite society to expose the immorality and hypocrisy of the elite. It remains, as does all of the work of this towering literary genius, as timely as ever. Directed by Dexter Whitehead, this enjoyable production has a strong cast who manage to deliver on the laughs as well as the more serious aspects of the play.
Sir Robert and Lady Chiltern, played by Richard Millward and Stephanie Miles, are a convincing couple forced to assess what truly matters in life and marriage. They are ably supported by Robbie Newton's idle bachelor Lord Goring in a performance which captures both the wit and playfulness of the ultimate dandy.
But it is the duplicitous Mrs Cheveley we most love to hate in this tale of ambition and blackmail. Wilde's villain of the piece must tread a fine line between ruthlessness and charm. Liz Berriman's performance manages just this, capturing both her cruel deceitfulness and her poise. When she warns Sir Robert that he is "not rich enough to buy back his past" there is real menace.
The chemistry between Lord Goring and his partner in frivolousness Mabel Chiltern (Georgina Kerr-Jones) provides a pleasing counterbalance to the manipulative plottings of Mrs Cheveley. There's equally amusing relief from the darker aspects of the plot in the scenes between Lord Goring and his disappointed father, the Earl of Caversham, played by Andrew Tomlinson.
Val Tomlinson puts in a standout performance as society gossip Lady Markby, capturing the cadence and rhythm of Wilde's writing perfectly. Her pronouncement that "nothing ages a woman so rapidly as having married the general rule" delivers the best laugh of the night.
Book your tickets while you can for an ideal night of entertainment.
An Ideal Husband is running at Sutton Arts Theatre from 30th September to 9th October 2021.