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Media Release: An Ideal Husband #1



By Larry Steckling

“An Ideal Husband”, a witty comedy by celebrated British playwright, Oscar Wilde is slated as the next production of Escondido’s own Patio Playhouse. The play opens during a dinner party at the home of Sir Robert Chiltern in London’s fashionable

Grosvenor Square in 1895.  Sir Robert, a prestigious member of the House of Commons, and his wife, Lady Chiltern, are hosting a gathering that includes his friend, Lord Goring, a carefree bachelor  friend, his sister, Mabel and other genteel friends.

As the title might suggest, “An Ideal Husband”’s primary theme is marriage, a common premise for the potboiler melodramas of  Wilde’s day.  These kinds of scripts, which have survived today as period comedies, provided storylines of domestic life culminating in a reaffirmation of such values as loyalty and undying love.

Lady Chiltern is an example of this kind of moralit y.  She predicates marital life on worship, posing her husband as a pristine ideal in both public and private life.

Bobbie Helland, the actress cast as Lady Chiltern, herself says of this current role in a slight play on words of the title, “ I play the Ideal Wife.”

“I think the play is very relevant to today,” said Bobbie.  “It asks the harsh question, ‘Does one mistake make you a bad person? Should you be judged completely by your past?’”

This is Bobbie’s second role with Patio, having commanded the stage last season

in “Lear”, in which she played Queen Lear, instead of King.  “It was an amazing thing to do,” she says. “Our director, Steve Murdock, who now plays my husband, came up with the concept of the gender switch. It was wonderful, because it made the character somehow more human.”

In the case of “An Ideal Husband”, the main obstacle in this reconciliation of married life, Mrs. Cheveley, the play’s villainess, would reduce marriage to mercenary transactions.

Kelli Harless says of her character, Mrs. Cheveley, “I think she is the only honest one in the play.  She is what we would call a Spin Doctor today.  She is very forward-thinking, almost like a man, yet she knows just how to use her feminine wiles to her advantage. “

Harless says that she likes to see her character as a fine, steel knife.  “ She has that edge and knows how to use it.”

Kelli’s first role at Patio was in “The Subject Was Roses” in 2001, in which she played opposite Jim Clevenger, the director of “An Ideal Husband”.  She says  of Clevenger, that he has a love affair with words. His penchant for alliteration is his gift as a director.”

Her favorite role to date has been M’Lynn in “Steel Magnolias” at Patio.  She loved playing that part because her character spoke the truth.  “ Nothing plays like the truth, “ she says, “ it resonates.”

Just as the truth, in the form of satire, resonates throughout “An Ideal Husband”.

In contrast to both Lady Chiltern and Mrs. Cheveley, the character of Mabel assumes an amoral pose, disparaging the demands of duty and social convention.

In fact, Wilde gives her character the quintessential lines  in the play. “ An ideal husband!” she exclaims. “ Oh, I don’t think I should like that.  It sounds like something in the next world.”

Candace Carbajal is so excited to be playing Mabel, whom she finds to be quite “plucky” indeed. “She is a very modern woman”, says Carbajal.  “She is ‘out there’. the modern voice in the play.”

Carbajal’s chief experience has been as a choreographer.  She recently choreographed “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” for the Pickwick Players of Santee.  Other dance stagings were for “Sheila- A Rock Musical” at Patio and “The Secret Garden”  for Paco Arts, in which she also appeared on stage.

Another favorite role of hers was “the ballerina nun” in “Nunsense” for Paco Arts.

“An Ideal Husband” opens April 26th and runs Friday and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm through May  19th. The playhouse is located at 201 E. Grand Ave. Suite 1D in Escondido (corner of Grand & Kalmia, between Vinz Wine Bar and Continental Deli.)

Reservations may be made online by going to the website @ www.patioplayhouse.com, or by calling 760-746-6669.