The following post is by Marti Hale, director of An Ideal Husband, opening at the Knightsbridge on May 6, 2011.
Oscar Wilde wrote An Ideal Husband over a hundred years ago – a play about morality, marriage and forgiveness. Surely in this era of social media, “friending” and love match websites we have moved beyond the strict social confines Wilde’s characters found themselves in. Surely, unlike his characters, we don’t put our partners and our politicians on a pedestal, and then vilify them when they fall from that pedestal. This century is far removed from Wilde’s century, isn’t it, so how can he be relevant for audiences in 2011? Well, despite our technology and our assumption that we are constantly evolving, we really haven’t moved far from Victorian morals in the United States (and seem to be quickly returning to them). We are still searching for the ideal match, the flawless partner and when that partner turns out to have flaws, we move on instead of accepting them. We expect our politicians to be flawless as well, and then when they are found not to be, we turn our back on them. That is precisely what Robert Chiltern fears the most – that he will fall from the pedestal his wife Gertrude and his constituents have placed him on and that his career and his marriage will be over. Sound familiar ? – we see it every day on the news. Fortunately, with a rueful smile, Wilde lets us see the error of our ways, showing us that there is no ideal person or relationship. He pokes fun at our silly behavior and beliefs and allows us to laugh at them – this is why I love Oscar Wilde. Maybe that’s the secret of truly evolving – being able to admit and learn from our mistakes while having a good laugh at our own expense. I think it’s worth a try.
— Marti Hale