Theatre review: The Judas Kiss at the Duke of York’s Theatre

12:00 25 January 2013

Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox in The Judas Kiss. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox in The Judas Kiss. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Manuel Harlan

West End transfer does no harm to triumphant revival of David Hare’s play about Oscar Wilde’s downfall

This revival of David Hare’s drama about Oscar Wilde and his notorious relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas has transferred to the West End after a triumphant run at the Hampstead Theatre.

The play failed to fully ignite when first staged in 1998, which Hare has blamed on the miscasting of principal roles including Liam Neeson as Wilde.

There are no such problems with director Neil Armfield’s production, primarily because of Rupert Everett’s riveting take on the great man.

He looks every inch the part with his dandy dress, bloated body and parted hair, and exudes the considerable charisma attributed to the Irish wordsmith, but with a very human weariness and without caricature.

The play is split into two acts set either side of the two years imprisonment he served after being convicted of gross indecency in 1895, a fate precipitated by his affair with the lord, who was known as Bosie.

Freddie Fox puts in a strong performance as the younger man, an arrogant and self-centred foil to Everett’s show-stealing Wilde.

The first half sees Wilde considering whether to flee the country as he awaits arrest, after the collapse of his libel case against Bosie’s father.

We find him holed up in a hotel room with Bosie and loyal friend Robert Ross (Cal MacAninch), in defiant mood and seemingly driven towards self-destruction because of his attachment to Bosie. The second half sees Wilde and Bosie staying in Naples having rekindled their relationship.

The sets are simple enough, but Everett’s Wilde is a complex character. He is transformed after the interval, becoming a frail and haunted man, yet still completely engaging and continuing to talk with such flair.

The play enthrals while offering plenty of insight into the writer’s contradictions and his tragic downfall.

It was well suited to the intimate Hampstead stage, but the transfer hasn’t done a jot of harm.

* The Judas Kiss is at the Duke of York’s Theatre in St Martin’s Lane, WC2, until Saturday April 6. Tickets from www.atgtickets.com or 0844 871 7627.

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

When the logo is explained, you’ll look again at the apple.

Read more

The 38-year-old triggered a manhunt after two bodies were found at an address in Surrey.

Read more

The mayor is meant to be convincing Singapore to invest in London – but he clearly has a bigger plan.

Read more

Promoted content

Gamucci is a global leader and premier brand of electronic cigarettes

Gamucci has an electronic cigarette tailored for every need. We have a range of both disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes suitable for all adult smokers. And for a limited time, some great discounts.

Paddington

With Christmas comes a host of movies to the big screen, from festive family comedies to action blockbusters. Here is our pick of the best out next month.

Top Stories

Quizzes

Try our fiendishly difficult new Arsenal quiz! Picture: PA

This new quiz will test even the most devoted Arsenal fans’ knowledge...

Read more
How well do you know Shoreditch? (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

From ancient Roman burial ground to bearded hipsters Shoreditch has always had a lot going on. Prove you know more about it than anyone else by taking our quiz:

Read more
Can you name these moustaches?

Movember is upon us once again and men across the country are growing moustaches to raise money to battle prostate cancer.

Read more