The Judas Kiss
Gaiety Theatre, Dublin Oct 15-20 7.30pm €25-€47.50 (Wed/Sat mat 2.30pm €25-€37.50) 01-6798476 gaietytheatre.ie
What was Oscar Wilde thinking? It should have been the best year of his career, with The Importance of Being Earnest wreaking merry havoc on the London stage while its story abounded with double lives and alternative meanings. But in 1895, with perplexing judgment, Wilde sued the Marquess of Queensberry for slander and the ensuing evidence of his own double life spelled out his ruin.
So, why didn’t he run? That’s where David Hare’s 1998 play The Judas Kiss begins, with Wilde’s friends urging the writer to flee to Paris, while his toxically self-obsessed lover (and the Marquess’s son), Bosie, counsels him to remain.
Hare’s image of Wilde is enigmatic, somewhere between a defiant romantic and a self-saboteur. He stays. He pays. Two years later he is released from Reading Gaol – ruined and in ill-health – and reunites with Bosie in Naples to be betrayed once more.
In 1998, Hare’s play featured Liam Neeson as Wilde. Here, another celebrity takes on the role for director Neil Armfield, but Rupert Everett (above) makes for much more fascinating casting. Never shy about his sexuality or his past, Everett has said he regretted coming out because of its impeding effect on his film career. It may be a strain to look for parallels with Wilde’s still-resonating sacrifice, but Everett can certainly play the martyr.
Can’t see that? Catch this: The Picture of Dorian Gray Abbey Theatre, Dublin