An Ideal Husband
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Elizabeth Craven

Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband is so full of wit and humor that it’s easy to lose track of its subtle depth as the drama explores the differences between men and women, particularly in the bond of marriage. The play is full of frivolous comments by the strange English characters of the late 1800’s time frame, like: “Nothing is so particularly hard to marry than a large nose.” or: “It is always worthwhile asking a question. It is not always worthwhile answering.”

But suddenly we find out that the successful, trustworthy and above reproach Sir Robert Chiltern (Rick Eldredge) made his fortune as a young man through insider trading. He’s not laughing when he admits that he “bought success at a great price.” When he’s suddenly being blackmailed into doing another dishonest act, he’s faced with his worst nightmare – having his wife Gertrude (Rebecca Castelli) discover that he’s not the perfect man she has been keeping on a pedestal for their entire marriage. His greatest fear is that he’ll lose her when she finds out that he’s not a godlike person but human and flawed.

Wilde, in a 1895 interview in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, said that the psychology of the play was about “the difference in the way in which a man loves a woman from that in which a woman loves a man; the passion that women have for making ideals (which is their weakness) and the weakness of a man who dares not show his imperfections to the thing he loves.” Indeed, this is what makes this play as apropos today as it was over 100 years ago, although it could be argued that the added moral twist of insider trading would also fit right in today’s headlines.

For tickets or more information about this production, playing at the scenic outdoor Redwood Amphitheatre located at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross, call (415) 488-7126 or visit www.porchlight.net.

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