As We Like It?

Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband is wed to the current lust for what's old

Nevertheless, there's something hollow about this 1999 version. The script gives Sir Robert a grand speech about shedding "our imperfect past" and stepping "unshackled" into the next century "to look our future squarely and proudly in the face." But the character of the foppish Lord Goring is still cloaked in coded sign. An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest were the last plays written by Wilde before he was jailed on sodomy charges; this one feels wistful, as if the writer longed to open his closets and damn the scandal, but knew the act impossible. The choice was made for him. After two years in prison, he emerged bankrupt, and was dead within three years. On the eve of another century, Wilde is revived: It's easy to appreciate his skillful stabs at hypocrisy and his winking disguises. Yet, despite Everett's further winks, this story ends the same way: queerness assimilated and nullified. As we like it?

 

An Ideal Husband starts Friday at the Uptown Theatre.

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