An Idea Husband

 

THE CLONMEL BASED Galloglass company has opened its new tour going to 19 venues, including two in Wales with an elegant production of a stylish play. Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, just a hundred years after its first performance, remains today a witty, wise and royally entertaining work of theatre.

The tongue in cheek plot offers scope for a layer of laughter to be imposed on some penetrating views of human nature under stress. Lord Chiltern, upright husband and politician, is being blackmailed by the sinister Mrs Cheveley for the one dishonourable act of his life. His goodygody wife, Gertrude, adds fuel to the flames and it is left to Lord Goring, foppish man about town, to rescue the situation in more ways than one.

There is a satisfying in genuine taken the twists and turns by the various characters in pursuit of their different goals and in the psychological resolutions by which they are brought to finality. Director Liam Halligan has achieved balance in the play's different elements in the serious business of personal loyalties, in the reconciliation of moral principle with human understanding, and in the polished wit, which is more serious than it sounds.

The acting is more than accomplished, in the traditionally polished manner. Billie Traynor steals the honours with her Lady Markby, a classic Wilde creation, and Gary Lilbum, as Goring, delivers his bag of epigrams with ease and charm. The imperilled Chiltem is played with authority by Karl O'Neill, with Laine Megaw as his spouse. Terry Byrne, Laura Forrest Hay, Catriona Ni Mhurchu and Dermot Arrigan take the remaining roles, all nicely in tune.

Blaithin Sheerin's inspired set ideal for touring, conveys an ambience of lush living black drapes with gilt pillars and chairs, and a panel at the rear which changes with different locations. Period costumes and a little violin music add to the atmosphere of this most enjoyable production.