Last night, I watched An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre and the following were new experiences for me:
1. I nearly fell asleep – during Acts 1 and 2 – which is uncharacteristic
2. The theatre was a quarter empty – not a regular sighting in West End theatres
3. Some people (who were sitting in the most expensive seats) started leaving just before the curtain call
The play itself was far too glib and it was easy for the key themes – successful man whose past comes back to haunt him and his wife who was rigid with her moral principles who had to learn to forgive – to be lost amidst the repartee and wit. And I found all the lines about the differences between men and women far too tiresome and tedious – although, it must be said, women of a certain age in the audience found them hilarious.
The first Act could have been trimmed. There were characters who only appeared in the first act – Vicomte de Nanjac, Lady Barford, Mrs Marchmont and Mr Montford – and while their characters showed up the hypocritical society of the movers and shakers in London, a bolder production, in my view, would have slashed some of their lines or, indeed, some of these characters altogether.
If anything, the entire play could have been trimmed down to just under 2 hours as opposed to the 2.5 hours running time.
The set design, however, was superb and it got a big thumbs up from the audience. And so was the acting but you’d expect it, given the stellar cast in this production. But I didn’t leave the theatre thinking that I’d had an exceptional evening.
My overall rating: 3 stars out of 5