Samantha Bond in An Ideal Husband
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Samantha Bond in An Ideal Husband
(Photo courtesy of the company)
Recent A Little Night Music star Alexander Hanson and his wife Samantha Bond have opened in a new production of Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband at the West End's Vaudeville Theatre. Lindsay Posner has directed the production, which has designs by Stephen Brimson Lewis, and lighting by Peter Mumford.

In the play, Mrs. Cheveley (Bond) attempts to ruin the career of politician Robert Chiltern (Hanson) by producing incriminating evidence about his past. However, she hasn't reckoned on the faithfulness and good memory of his devoted wife, nor the assistance of his philandering friend Lord Goring.

The cast also includes Rachael Stirling, Elliot Cowan, Caroline Blakiston, Charles Kay, and Fiona Button.

Many of the daily papers and U.K. websites have released their reviews and the reaction to the revival is strong, with many critics singling out Bond for her performance.

Among the reviews are:

Daily Telegraph
An Ideal Husband, Vaudeville theatre, review
"Alexander Hanson powerfully captures the politician's rising panic, and there are strong performances from Rachael Stirling as his prig of a wife and from Elliot Cowan.

"But the real star turn comes from Samantha Bond as the blackmailing Mrs Cheveley. Playing a woman with a past who wears too much rouge and too few clothes, she brings a delicious vivacity and wit to the role, delivering her lines in a voice that is a mixture of honey and ground glass.

"Her squirming victim is played by Hanson, Bond's real life husband, adding a piquant twist to this richly entertaining evening."

The Guardian
An Ideal Husband - review
"Wilde's plot may be full of awkward contrivances but Posner's production does full justice to its genuine substance. Alexander Hanson brings out the posturing element in Chiltern's public virtue and his corresponding rage when his dark secret is revealed: there is real force in the scene where he turns on his over-idealising wife to announce that she has ruined him. And Rachael Stirling is equally powerful as the wife who realises she has worshipped a false idol and has to learn to live with human flaws. Samantha Bond as the blackmailing Mrs Cheveley also looks handsome as hell in her silken gowns and makes this dubious predator an instrument of truth."

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"Heretical as it may be to say so, some of Wilde's comic riffs even come to seem a bit tiresome. There's a long passage in the second act when an elderly aristo, although well played by Caroline Blakiston, fires off her views about politics and society in a way that simply brings the play grinding to a halt. The point about Wilde is that he expresses his philosophy of life through the melodramatic action. When Posner's production focuses on that it is at its best."

The Stage
An Ideal Husband
"Alexander Hanson as Sir Robert Chiltern, a Tory minister whose priggish political image is about to be sullied by a youthful guilty secret, is idolised by his wife, Rachael Stirling, both difficult roles to infuse with real emotion. Happily they are here played not with stiff composure, but with love, passion and anger as the turmoil of events allows them at last to make a bonfire of their vanities and their illusory ideals."

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"Performance of the evening and perhaps of her career, comes from Samantha Bond as the glamorous but wicked Mrs Chevely floating through these gilded salons in cutaway silk gowns, standing her ground with the strongest of opponents with a resolute sureness that might suggest a Shavian heroine rather than Wilde's society manipulator. Indeed, so appealing is her style that one could almost hope she might succeed with her womanly wiles."

Whatsonstage.com
An Ideal Husband
"Posner's production reasserts the play's Ibsenite classicism coated in a polished veneer: Alexander Hanson's Sir Robert Chiltern, a rising political star in the Foreign Office, is cornered by Samantha Bond's blackmailing Mrs Cheveley for having sold a Cabinet secret to another government."

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"The cast is strong all the way down, from Charles Kay's dyspeptic grandee and Caroline Blakiston's magnificent dowager (with one of Wilde's greatest drawing room monologues) right through to Max Digby's deliciously observed servant and Fiona Button's pert society sibling. A wonderful evening."