An Ideal Husband at Chatsworth

The classic Oscar Wilde comedy An Ideal Husband will be playing at the Chatsworth House Theatre from next Tuesday October 16 to 21.

It is being performed by the Chatsworth Players, a group of actors brought together by Bakewell woman Sylvia Jackson to use the fantastic Victorian theatre rediscovered less than ten years ago.

The theatre sets were created by the celebrated designer William Hemsley and had remained undisturbed since they were last used in production almost a century ago. At the time of the discovery in 2005 an expert described it as “one of the biggest theatrical finds of the past 20 years”.

Staff at the house came across them while they were clearing out the former ballroom, which was used as a theatre in the late 1800s. The designer created the auditorium at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, in 1896, at the request of the Duke of Devonshire.

The room was built in 1832 as a ballroom with a minstrels’ gallery at one end. The 8th Duke asked Hemsley to turn it into a theatre at a time when it was at its most fashionable. At the time the Duke’s friend, the Prince of Wales, was having an affair with the actress Lily Langtry. The prince was such a regular visitor that the press dubbed Chatsworth, the ‘Theatre Royal’.

Back to the 21st Century and an Ideal Husband seems rather an apt choice of production since it is about a respected couple in genteel London society thrown asunder by the revelation of a past indiscretion.

Wilde’s character -the rake Lord Goring – famously says in the comedy: “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” If you enjoy Wilde then this production in such an historical setting is a must.

For more details about the play, the Chatsworth Theatre, Sylvia Jackson and the cast go to http://www.chatsworthplayers.com.

There are several different ticket options including a black tie dinner on Friday October 19. To book you will need to ring 01629 810174.