Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Gamut Theatre Produces Wilde's "An Ideal Husband"

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Nov 17, 2014 1:03 PM
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After The Importance of Being Earnest, the most widely-produced play by Oscar Wilde is his 1895 comedy, An Ideal Husband. It's a play which centers on the always-timely theme of political corruption. Its message, however, is not one of condemning the moral failures of the powerful, but rather of how lives can be tragically ruined by a hypocritical society. Soon after its production, Wilde himself was to have his own public condemnation in a trial for "gross indecency", for which he spent two years in prison.  

The original script has a large cast of 15 roles. But the current production of the play at Gamut Theatre in Harrisburg uses an adaptation by Daniel Morris in which all of the roles are played by only four actors, making quick transitions between their Victorian-era costumes. Director of the show, Clark Nicholson, says he doesn't think anything is lost in the process, "The full script is still there, but what is gained is the fun of the unbelievable quick changes and distinctive characterizations, and also the mischief of having the 4 actors also play one single character."

Nicholson is referring to the fact that all four actors appear at some point as Phipps the Butler. The quick pace and the Wilde-wit ensure a lot of hilarity. But the staying power of the play is that its humor and fun is layered onto ideas that still have some resonance today.

An Ideal Husband is performed at Gamut Classic Theatre, 605 Strawberry Square, third floor, Harrisburg through November 23. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2:30.

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