Friday, October 15, 2010

Great Lakes Theater Festival: An Ideal Husband (Oscar Wilde)

At some point--roughly the same time as Great Lakes Theater moved into their new Hanna Theatre home at PlayhouseSquare--I fell off of Great Lakes Theater's mailing list. Postcards are still, believe it or not, the primary vehicle through which events make it to my conscious--also known as my calendar*. And thus the reason GLTF is just now appearing on this blog.

This was my third time in the Hanna: Wicked Rocks being the most recent venture, the one before that, too long to remember. The theater is gorgeous, intimate, and as I learned on a walking tour over the summer, rich in history theatrical history.

On tap for tonight -- and speaking of on tap, the bar in the back of the house is open 90 minutes before and after every performance -- Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. Though The Importance of Being Earnest is virtually inseparable from Mr. Wilde's name in my mind this is the first of his works I've seen performed.

I was impressed. Though the first few minutes seemed a little stiff, like an engine coming up to speed the four acts (one intermission) purr along quite enjoyably. The set is elegantly simple and restrained: The predominant feature besides the actors are a series of chairs that are arranged to set each scene.

Though originally premiered in 1895 the themes are no less relevant 115 years later, and quite apropos given the current, particularly vicious mud-slinging campaign season. Revolving around a dishonorable secret, political blackmail and counter-blackmail, the dangers of elevating loved ones to pedestals and unyielding moral judgements it isn't difficult to imaging the same set of events occurring as I type.

Likewise, given my long-standing status as "single", the various quips about men regrading women, women regarding men, and both on their spouses: Again 115 years later as relevant now as then. I found myself chucking more often than not as Mr. Wilde and the GLTF production team accurately captured both themes in a reflective social commentary.

Witty dialogue well timed made this a performance well-worth attending.


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