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Oscar Wilde: 'Real Housewives' mastermind

Jenn stafford, vincent o'ne

Jenn Stafford and Vincent O'Neill star in the Irish Classical Theatre Company's production of Oscar Wilde's "A Woman of No Importance."

The Irish Classical Theatre Company's production of Oscar Wilde's "A Woman of No Importance," one of the must-see plays of the season so far, contains a speech about the ideal husband that will doubltess strike a chord with any viewer of Bravo's "Real Housewives," committed or casual.

It comes from an unforgettable character named Mrs. Allonby -- a sort of NeNe Leakes of her day, played in this production by the gifted Jenn Stafford -- and it lays out the exact ethos of the "Real Housewives" franchise. It's well worth a read, but sounds even better live and in context:

He should persistently compromise us in public, and treat us with absolute respect when we are alone. And yet he should be always ready to have a perfectly terrible scene, whenever we want one, and to become miserable, absolutely miserable, at a moment's notice, and to overwhelm us with just reproaches in less than twenty minutes, and to be positively violent at the end of half an hour, and to leave us for ever at a quarter to eight, when we have to go and dress for dinner. And when, after that, one has seen him for really the last time, and he has refused to take back the little things he has given one, and promised never to communicate with one again, or to write one any foolish letters, he should be perfectly broken-hearted, and telegraph to one all day long, and send one little notes every half-hour by a private hansom, and dine quite alone at the club, so that every one should know how unhappy he was. And after a whole dreadful week, during which one has gone about everywhere with one's husband, just to show how absolutely lonely one was, he may be given a third last parting, in the evening, and then, if his conduct has been quite irreproachable, and one has behaved really badly to him, he should be allowed to admit that he has been entirely in the wrong, and when he has admitted that, it becomes a woman's duty to forgive, and one can do it all over again from the beginning, with variations.

--Colin Dabkowski


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