The portrait of success, Robert and Gertrude Chiltern represent the highest values of the late-Victorian Era. Sir Chiltern is gifted with youth, rising political power, good looks, unforgettable charm, and respect. His wife exudes morality and thoughtfulness. She is taken to be the epitome of Victorian standards: beautiful, graceful, and the talk of London. Both are well on their way to immeasurable success and assured happiness. Unfortunately, this lovely couple’s fate is met with Oscar Wilde’s merciless wit, wielded against the social standards of Victorian London. Mrs. Cheveley, an unscrupulous woman who intends to wreak havoc on the Chiltern family with evidence of Sir Robert’s hidden past, arrives. This dilemma is met with the aid of the Chilterns’ friend Lord Goring, moral struggle, and the conclusion that one cannot understand the value of life without forgiveness and charity.
An Ideal Husband was meant to take the lives of aristocratic Londoners and exaggerate them to a degree worthy of mocking. American Stage definitely fulfills this purpose. Though my first thought was overacting, upon deliberation it becomes clear what the writer’s intentions were. In the case of the antagonist, I think it may have been taken too far.
Though all of the acting was fabulous, I can speak the least to the interpretation of Mrs. Cheveley. Her words were dramatically drawn out and I cannot say that I found it particularly funny, so much as I did vexing. In contrast was the performance of Richard B. Watson (Robert Chiltern). As the leading character, he allowed me to feel for him both disappointment and sympathy. Watson lets you journey with his character in the way Wilde intended you to. The entire play was accommodated by a total of four actors, which was very impressive and, in some cases, hilarious. Overall, the acting was great and supported this amazing story fairly well.
Merely glancing upon the stage set was thrilling. I was immediately brought back to Victorian London. The scene epitomized everything I had always pictured Wilde’s writings to be. More than the set, the environment that the theatre posed was very agreeable with an audience. The number of audience members is perfect, and there is not a bad seat in the house. With such an amiable location, you are sure to have a good experience with American Stage.
I highly recommend attending the An Ideal Husband, and also look out for Seven Guitars showing at 163 3rd St N St. Petersburg from January 20th– February 26th