Following their recent production of The Importance of Being Earnest, Dramsoc served up another delectable helping of Oscar Wilde in An Ideal Husband, which ran nightly from 5th to 9th October.
Admittedly, An Ideal Husband is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. For starters, its pretty much a solid 90 minutes of turn-of-the-century dialogue, but not just any old dialogue – Oscar Wilde’s deliciously witty and cynical words, barbs, and social observations.
Although first staged in 1895, An Ideal Husband is an ageless comedy-drama exploring themes as contemporary as marriage, friendship, political scandal, blackmail and ambition.
Robert Chiltern is a successful Government official, well-off and with a loving wife in Lady Chiltern (Sarah Gleeson). However, all this is threatened when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning evidence of a past misdeed which would be the ruin of both Robert’s career and marriage. Robert turns for help to Lord Goring, a former lover of Mrs Cheveley, and best friend of the Chilterns, Goring proves the unwitting catalyst for further blackmail and intrigue as the farcical and wildly hilarious situation comedy gathers pace.
The stand out performance of this production was without question Robin Pötke’s turn as Robert Chiltern. Pötke displayed enormous charisma and talent in his depiction of a man torn between doing what is morally right and remaining balanced upon the “monstrous” pedestal his wife has placed him on.
However, it’s to John Kelly, as Lord Goring, that most of the play’s best lines fall: “to love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”. Of impeccable wit, Lord Goring is the play’s thirty-something dandified socialite, a thinly veiled double for Wilde himself.
Maeve Dalargy is unfaltering as Mrs Cheveley, the vicious and opportunistic femme fatale. Elsewhere there are a string of fine comic performances – Jack Somer’s turn as Goring’s disapproving father Kird Caversharm is a scenestealer, as are the performances by Niall McDonagh as droll servant Phipps, and Sarah Taaffe McGuire as the deeply upper-crust Lady Markaby.
According to directors Fiachra MacNamara and Jason Armstrong, the Dramsoc Freshers’ Play is “about giving Freshers a chance to take control of the stage for a full week”, and “to show the society and the college the great talent that will shape the next few years of Dramsoc.” They’re not wrong: from this performance the future is most certainly bright.