Wilde play funny, dramatic

DeKALB – Pressure to achieve perfection, political blackmail and forgiveness are all aspects of life explored in Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” the second theater production of the Northern Illinois University’s School of Theatre and Dance 2012-13 season.

The play examines the personal and public lives of London’s late 1800s social elite. The action takes place in a 24-hour period, beginning with a dinner party hosted by Sir Robert Chiltern.

When a female guest tries to blackmail Sir Robert, dirty details of the characters’ relationships come to light.

Jack Hickey, artistic director for Oak Park Festival Theatre in Oak Park, is the guest director and said he has not seen a significant difference between working with professional actors and NIU students.

He said the production could hold its own in Chicago.

“These students are prepared, and they’re willing to listen to their director,” Hickey said.

Hickey said the audience will enjoy the humor in the play. However, because the play was written in 1895, the language is different than what modern audiences are used to.

“You do have to listen a little bit more than you would normally,” Hickey said.

“But if you’re listening carefully, a lot of these offhand comments are very funny.”

Student and stage manager Stephanie Vera agreed. Though the play has serious parts, the director plays up the humor to create a balance for the audience, she said.

Vera described Hickey’s work as organic, allowing the actors and crew to bounce ideas off one another. She said every member of the cast and crew contributed to the final product.

Even though the play was written in 1895, the themes and lessons hold true in modern times, assistant director Ryan Massie said. One lesson the play explores is the consequences people face for good or bad actions and decisions. Honesty is rewarded, and dishonesty leads to complications and conflict.

An Ideal Husband

7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Oct. 18-21 and 25-28

O’Connell Theatre, NIU Stevens Building

Adults $16, seniors $13, students $8, 815-753-1600 or

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