An Ideal Husband

first_imgTake one perennial play of the English tradition, stage it in the beautiful surroundings of the oldest college in Oxford, and watch the magic unfold. Nothing could be more of a sure-fire success than Univ Players’ garden production of An Ideal Husband, a feast of witty repartee and biting social comment set in the dizzy heights of upper-class London. It is beautifully presented, with careful attention to detail and a dazzling array of period costumes, and enthusiastically performed by a cast made up of Univ students. Directors Zeynep Kayacan and Naomi Wilkinson have shunned modernisation in favour of a completely traditional approach, down to the gloves, hats, canes and classical music. The ladies are all elegant distaste and archly-raised eyebrows, while they allow themselves to be escorted by the gentlemen to supper. The ensemble acting is polished and almost fautless. Nanw Rowlands is wonderful as a “frightfully plummy” Mabel and Jamie Rann turns in a first-rate performance as Viscount Goring, while Lady Markby is played with a fabulously aristocratic tone by the hilarious Heather Oliver. The whole atmosphere is one of propriety and etiquette, under which the sordid matters of power and money bubble. Wilde takes care to remind the audience that scandal is both the requirement and the destruction of the whole social structure. As Mrs Cheveley (Rachel Clements) points out, “it is the game of life as we all have to play it.” This energetic production is packed with laughs, and stands as unquestionable proof that the Univ Players are a force to be reckoned with in the world of Oxford drama.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004last_img read more