Oscar Wilde is the master of one-liners, many of which are so seductive that they can mislead a poorly directed production into ignoring virtually everything else. This is one of the many faults of the current revival of An Ideal Husband at the Connelly Theater, which is full of perfectly boring actors who offer us crisp English accents and who pause for the expected laughs and do little else of interest. The whole show reeks of mediocre community theater, where you’re just impressed that everybody has learned all those lines. Which isn’t exactly the case here—for the first half of the performance I attended, Amanda Jones (Mrs. Cheveley) hardly got through four sentences without flubbing one, and in the second half, Stuart Williams (Viscount Goring) took her place; he not only struggled to get the words right, but made the humiliating decision of starting lines all over again after realizing halfway through that he had them wrong. It’s a stultifying, passionless affair, with a cast that regurgitates what has been written down without any sense of feeling. This isn’t acting, it’s remembering—and pretty lousy remembering at that. An elderly lady sitting in front of me snoozed through all four acts, occasionally waking up for just enough time to nod and smile appreciatively before falling back asleep. It strikes me that she brought only slightly less effort to this play than its somnambulant cast and crew.
An Ideal Husband runs through July 29th at the Connelly Theater. 220 E. 4th Street New York, NY.