An Ideal Husband Brisbane Review @ La Boite Theatre

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'An Ideal Husband' 'An Ideal Husband' Image © Morgan Roberts

Oscar Wilde – meet Australia. 'An Ideal Husband' takes a tale of corruption, politics and desire and flies it on an Ansett jet to 1990s Canberra.

Lewis Treston's 'An Ideal Husband' takes advantage of the '90s trends slowly creeping their way back into the zeitgeist by making this show an all-out '90s extravaganza, all the way down to the thumping house music and bobble-head John Howards who groove their way on to the stage to change the sets around between scenes.

Though it feels distinctly Australian AND distinctly '90s, Oscar Wilde is still here, in the best way. Classic Wilde-isms are kept sprinkled throughout, and there are even meta Wildean references in the script: “To lose one piece of toast may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness”.

An Ideal Husband MorganRoberts1
Image © Morgan Roberts

It was an. . . Easier time, some might argue, to be corrupt. 'An Ideal Husband' makes sense in an era where technology and the internet didn't quite run our lives, and getting away with things – especially in politics – wasn't so much of a challenge. Things still slipped through the cracks, though, and Hsiao-Ling Tang as politician Robyn Shi is a complete delight to watch in this regard. From bold confidence to sheepishness, Hsiao-Ling masters it all.

Will Carseldine plays Artie Whig, oozing arrogance and selfishness, with the looming threat of being cut off financially by his father John (a 'fair dinkum', stereotypically spot-on Aussie 'bloke' played by Kevin Hides) on the horizon. Billy Fogarty is excellent to watch as Artie's animated best friend Mabel, Patrick Jhanur starts small but blooms into comedy gold, and Kevin Spink's Douglas Harris is captivating as a hopelessly romantic journo looking for his big break.

Technically, 'An Ideal Husband' is a feast. Screens above the stage do a great job setting scenes, adding just enough extra context and '90s flair to lift the performance. Set changes are turned into mini-raves, and each one of the cast members use the in-the-round space beautifully – a challenge in itself, but one this talented group of actors tackles head on.

An Ideal Husband MorganRoberts3
Image © Morgan Roberts

It's Emily Burton (Gertrude Chiltern) and Christen O'Leary (Dame Tara Markby/Tina Topaz), however, who completely steal the show. Impeccable comic timing, rapid-fire line delivery, and depth of characterisation – they are both extraordinary. Totally hilarious, they each make you want to root for their characters in the most twisted ways.

'An Ideal Husband' is saucy, tantalising, scintillating and fresh. A modern(ish) Australian take on a 19th century Wilde story, the play moves quickly, driven by a dynamic cast with palpable chemistry.

★★★★☆ 1/2.

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