Alister Cameron, Kirsty Oswald
Where did you see it? Hampstead Theatre
It has been a while, hasn't it. I struggled to see performances (where were all the Edinburgh previews this year?) and then write about them.
I return to blogging after seeing The Judas Kiss by David Hare. This production has the perfect recipe of a subject that still interests, over a century after his death, and a cast lead by theatre veteran Rupert Everett and the up and coming Freddie Fox. The story is divided into two halves; Oscar Wilde (Everett) on the evening before his arrest and Wilde after his release living with his lover and the cause of his downfall Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas (Fox).In the middle you have Robbie Ross (played brilliantly by Macaninch), a man far more in love with Wilde than Wilde ever was with him, though clearly fond of him as he was Wilde's first male lover. Ross has the uneviable task of paying off the help (Oswald, Hardy and Cameron) whilst trying to get his friend away from the police. He is also go-between for Wilde and his wife Constance, though we never meet her, her humiliation and hatred of Bosie comes through Ross.
Everett shines as Wilde, but it is not a difficult part. The audience can empathise with Wilde's love for his children who are estranged from him and his determination not to flee whilst he has the chance. What everyone struggles with is how he can love Bosie so, a man who introduced him to the rent boys who provide evidence against Wilde at trial, a man so spoilt and selfish yet so unaware.Hare (and Fox) could easily make Bosie a one dimensional villain but there is something intriguing and attractive about this horrible character that attracts Wilde (and Gallieo, played by the rather well-endowed Tom Colley). My only issue would be the second half, which drags but has the most potential (it is mostly a two hander between Wilde and Ross or Wilde and Bosie).
|Fox, Everett and Macaninch in The Judas Kiss|
I should warn, or mention in passing so you buy tickets, that there is a LOT of full frontal nudity in this play. Tom Colley is the highlight (Let's just say Fox is very keen to put on his bedsheet when wondering around the stage whereas Colley isn't) but it is all done tastefully, though maybe too darkly lit for some people's tastes.
I think what stuck with me was Wilde's comment that Judas's betrayal to Jesus wasn't dramatic enough. He hardly knew Jesus, it should have been John that administered the kiss. The saddest thing about Wilde is that he betrayed by EVERYBODY for something that wouldn't raise an eyebrow had he done these thigs a hundred years later.