'An Ideal Husband' is an ideal show for today from 3rd Act Theatre

Peter Fischaber, left, is Arthur Goring, and Brenna Crow is Mabel Chiltern in “An Ideal Husband” by 3rd Act Theatre. [Photo courtesy of April Porterfield]
Peter Fischaber, left, is Arthur Goring, and Brenna Crow is Mabel Chiltern in “An Ideal Husband” by 3rd Act Theatre. [Photo courtesy of April Porterfield]

Oscar Wilde, venerated and vilified, is a playwright not to be tampered with. Yet Kate Adams successfully tweaked “An Ideal Husband” to create a play both as elegant as Wilde intended and also particularly familiar to modern audiences. Adams also directs the 3rd Act Theatre presentation kicking off 2022 with engaging success.

Set in Washington D.C., “An Ideal Husband” reveals political corruption and blackmail at its most nefarious and discusses morality in public, as well as personal, life. Wilde’s original play was first presented in 1894, and not much has changed since that time in terms of the thematic choices Wilde made. Adams's reimagining only enhances the timelessness of human fiendishness frailties, virtuousness and redemption.

Cam Taylor plays Senator Robert Chiltern, a young senator establishing an excellent reputation as a man of integrity. Taylor matures into his role quite well. His wife, Mrs. Gertrude Chiltern, is played by Brooke Howard, a woman supportive of her husband’s career and idealism, yet one who is easily disappointed by his failings. Her transition is believable and honest.

Peter Fischaber is Arthur Goring, a Washington D.C. playboy and apparent superficial social climber with some very interesting redeeming qualities. Fischaber’s talent is evident in his interpretation of this role.

Brenna Crow is delightfully cheek as the lovely Chiltern niece, Mabel Chiltern, secure in her place as a Washington socialite. She is also a potential love interest of Mr. Goring.

Bailey Lucien is cast as Mrs. Cheveley, a woman of independent thinking and morality. She exhibits the worst aspects of stereotypical feminine evil with great skill. It may be notable that in the time of Oscar Wilde, perhaps They are not so misguided about gender identification. She combines the disdainful characterization of Wilde’s with a modern slant that is equally diabolical under Adam’s direction.

Christine Jolly plays the innocent yet deliberate social climbing Mrs. Markby, an enthusiastic friend and admirer of Mrs. Cheveley, introducing her to an unprepared Washington society.

Goring has a disappointed father, Senator Caversham, a long-time distinguished senator played with enduring style by Doug Carlton. His expectations of an apparently ne’er do well son are lowered with each passing year as he is completely unaware of his son’s positive attributes. It is interesting to watch his reaction to the discovery that Goring is actually rather a decent human being.

Rounding off the cast is Eric Strimple who plays the valet of Goring (Phipps), as well as the Chiltern butler (Mason) with distinctive differences. He is a traditional butler for the Chilterns, but definitely a modern version of a valet, with little evident respect for his employer.

The entire cast has an excellent grasp of the characters and presents an entertaining show, although the first act is somewhat stilted. It seems as though the actors are speaking the words of Wilde as pronouncements rather than actual dialogue but as the act progresses, they become more comfortable with their roles. The second act reveals very natural interactions and chemistry that makes “An Ideal Husband” a delight to watch.

”An Ideal Husband” is being presented through Feb. 13 at the Shoppes at NorthPark Mall. Assisting Adams as director is Bob McGill, technique consultant; Madison Sanford, stage manager; and Dani Becker, board liaison. Production staff includes Don Taylor, designing the excellent set; Dakota Lee Bryant, sound designer and props; Michele Fields, lighting designer and props. The costumes are designed by Amandanell Bold, who is the artistic director of 3rd Act Theatre. Melanie Ambrose is the stage hand who makes it happen.

For information and or tickets visit 3rdActTheatreCo.com or call 405-593-8093. Masks are required in the theatre and actors will wear face shields.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: 'An Ideal Husband' is an ideal show for today from 3rd Act Theatre