Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. At King’s Theatre, Edinburgh until Sat 20.

If you’re a fence-sitter as far as old Oscar goes, ‘An Ideal Husband’ is the ideal play to unhinge that indecision. Witness its quintessential Wildean aphorisms and top-drawer social etiquette - preferably in this faithful, all-star, Peter Hall-directed production - and scream silently at the man’s overbearing smugness. Conversely, if you already like Wilde, you’ll love this. Frustratingly, the plot has so much dramatic potential - rising politician, upstanding citizen and loyal husband

7 Sir Robert Chiltern is on the cusp of a

glittering future but his parliamentary career is founded and could founder on a clandestine deal made in his youth. llone of his immediate circle know of this chicanery except an unexpected dinner guest, the devious Mrs Cheveley, helpfully marked out from the other cream muslin-wearing women with her eflulgent purple gown (thanks awfully Peter, I’d never have spotted her otherwise).

This is a classic Shakespearian

dilemma, but Wilde, who obviously

i can’t believe he’s come up with such a

fecund plotline, chooses to smother it

i in self-righteous repartee. So a less


flippant character like Lady Chiltern

; who, in another dramatist’s hands, i would prove to be an emotional

, lynchpin, is merely a worthy (therefore '

boring) wife and poor Angharad Rees

has nothing to get her teeth into,

j while Kate O’Mara as Mrs Cheveley

can swish around with feline mendacity to her heart’s content and

get to wear all the fab frocks. This

idea that you have to be an insufferable wit to be deemed

. interesting is a major sticking point for me.

The one exception is Lord Goring

(camped to the max by David Robb) - who’s permitted to be a good guy, a

flamboyant cove, Mrs Cheveley’s

cunning nemesis and a wow at parties ; all at the same time. Oh, and a special 3

round of applause for crowd-pulling

luvvies Michael Denison and llulcie

Gray who are utterly charming in their respective roles as the bumbling Earl of Caversham and the stock loud-

mouthed matriarch Lady Markby. 800- 'I

pah. (Fiona Shepherd)


Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. llntil

; Sat 27 llov.

Artistic Director Robin Peoples, no doubt with the Brunton bank balance in mind, has done a fine job of putting together an autumn season of plays that is substantial without being elitist, popular without being bland. Willy Russell’s comedy follows work by John Steinbeck, Tony Roper and Hector MacMillan; writers who set out to entertain, either through story- telling or humour, but also to engage with serious issues like education, female exploitation, brotherly love and sectarianism.

It’s too easy to dismiss Willy Russell on the dodgy assumption that to be so successful he must be playing to the lowest common denominator. That’s not the way he works. Like fellow Liverpudlian Alan Bleasdale, Russell knows that you can take an audience a long way once you’ve won them over with a few well-placed wisecracks. Tell them that your new play rests on the conflict between institutionalised

Eilidh Fraser and Jimmy Chisholm in Educating Rita f

ignorance for the masses and self- referential knowledge for its own sake for the educated and you’ll see more

than the odd empty seat in the house. Tell them you’ve got a snappy comedy .

about a street-wise Scouser and a

‘stuffy professor and try and keep them


Actually, Peoples’ production doesn’t quite get this mix right. Perhaps it’s because Eilidh Fraser as Rita is more

Coronation Street than Brookside, - perhaps it’s because her portrayal

strikes almost but not exactly the right balance between chip-on-the-

, shoulder pushiness and plain naiveté,

whatever the reason, the show just

; isn’t as funny as it could be. The

performances in every other respect

are strong enough to carry us along,

1 and by the end it feels like Fraser and i Jimmy Chisholm (playing Frank her

; boozy tutor) have taken us on an

enlightening journey of transformation that has been as demanding for them


L: asit is satisfying for us. (Mark Fisher) '

The Promoter the right replace any artist the bill without advance notice.

coming to you at

The Ferry

Clyde Place, Glasgow

Box Office: O4| 946 |O44

Wed 24 Nov ’93. 9.00pm start

See four of America’s finest comedians live on their round Britain mission to amuse. You’re guaranteed an outrageous evening of stand up

comedy. So come along and Lighten Up.

Tickets £5 or £3 with Student Union Card.

Admission is on a first come first served basis.

in association with



Marlboro Lights 6mg TAR 0.5mg Nl(‘()'l‘lNl_i

SMOKING CAUSES HEART DISEASE Health Departments Chief Medical ()l'fieers

! |

The List l9 November—2 December I993 51