SUCH WILDE FOXES
ROBERT GORELANGTON SHOW OF THE WEEK
An Ideal Husband Vaudeville Theatre, London Until Jul 14, 2hrs 45mins
Father and son Edward and Freddie Fox have never acted on stage together before. Here they play a fictional father and son in this sparkler by Oscar Wilde. Edward is the fogey earl, Freddie his wastrel, unmarried son, Lord Goring. They drive each other nuts. It’s a bad relationship but a totally sweet double act.
Fox senior played this irascible buffer four years ago, so he’s reheated his performance. Now 81, he’s looking a bit frail beneath his topper, and his voice is so posh that ‘bachelor’ comes out as ‘badger’. Pallid Freddie proves a delight as the witty young Lord Goring. ‘To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance,’ says this preening dandy who conceals a heart of gold.
Melodrama is fuel-injected by a scarlet woman, Mrs Cheveley. She has a compromising letter that will bring down a politician on the make (Nathaniel Parker) whose fortune is built on a dodgy Suez Canal deal. Frances Barber is electric in her scenes with this venal MP, whose choice is to save either his career or his marriage to an adoring, deluded wife (Sally Bretton).
On a gilt and plush set, Susan Hampshire bags plenty of laughs as an aristo whose mad assertions are unarguable. But Wilde’s theme here is really one of love. There are piercing swoops of real feeling as the action reaches a glowingly happy ending that seems unforced.
The two Foxes play a belter in an evening that’s both Wildely charming and warmly recommended.
★F★red★die★Fo★x as Lord Goring and Edward Fox as the Earl From left: Susan Hampshire and Sally Bretton. Above: Edward Fox with son Freddie, also below