'An Ideal Husband' garners high praise for theatrical troupe in Folsom

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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What: “An Ideal Husband”
Where: Free Fall Stage, 800 Reading St., Folsom
When: Friday-Sunday, through Feb. 24.
Check website for show times
Cost: Admission $15 general, $12 senior, student,
military and SARTA, $7 kids 11 and under.
Special Valentines Dessert show 7 p.m., Feb. 14, $20
Purchase tickets online, or cash only at the door
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Are there any among us who don’t have a secret?

It’s true that man is judged by his past. But who among us is without secrets, without hidden faults?

Oscar Wilde wrote “sooner or later we shall all have to pay for what we do.” But is there room for leniency? Is there room for forgiveness when we have atoned for our sins, many times over?

These are the questions Wilde asks in “An Ideal Husband,” one of his most popular works that perfectly captures London’s high society, and still offers much relevance today.

For those who are Wilde fans, Free Fall’s cast members give a masterful performance of the great playwright’s work, and bring his social commentary of his day – commentary about the ridiculous nature of society’s elite, to life.

For those who are new to Oscar Wilde, suffice it to say that anyone who knows anything about relationships between the sexes, or just enjoys a hilarious good time will find “An Ideal Husband” the perfect play.

It just so happens that no one is wittier than Wilde; a statement that is still true today. Viscount Goring, played by Cody Walker, brings much hilarity to the stage, with his comic expressions and perfect timing. Lady Chiltern, played by the seemingly demure, yet forceful in her own right, Jeannette Baisch and Mrs. Cheveley, the woman who wears too much rouge, and not quite enough clothes, performed by Rachael Van Cleave, are perfectly paired, or rather, they square off against one another – one nearly angelic, one as diabolical and manipulating as they come. And Sir Robert Chiltern, played by James Van Eaton, is compelling as the too-good-to-be-true Ideal Husband, with the charm and looks of a young Hugh Grant.

The play, performed in four acts, is like watching a tennis match – quick repartee bouncing back and forth between characters, allowing never a dull second. Who knew that the lives of the idle could be so eventful?

“How can you call it an idle life when he attends three operas a week, changes his clothes at least five times a day, and eats out every night,” a character asks.

Of course, even the idle rich have intrigues and secrets.

“That’s why we love finding out other people’s secrets – because we can deflect attention from our own,” Viscount Goring said.

The show, directed by Deanne Eldridge, includes a powerful secret, a substantial plot, and characters that the audience both loves, and loves to hate. But what it all comes back to is Wilde’s way with words, and an experienced cast that gives the manuscript both heft and hilarity.

Mrs. Cheveley says “she talks more and says less than anyone I’ve ever met.” Not true for Oscar Wilde. He has much to say, and a brilliant way of saying it.