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

12:44
American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria (AP Photo/freejamesfoley.org, Nicole Tung, File)

The SAS is closing in on the man known as ‘John’, suspected of being from London, who brutally executed US journalist James Foley.

Read more
Ishak Ayiris is set to study at Eton College.  Photograph by Lucy Ray

A schoolboy who secured top marks in his GCSEs is set to follow in the footsteps of David Cameron and Boris Johnson after winning a scholarship to Eton worth £76,000.

Read more
Kevin Mellon swung a bag of Jack Russell puppies in the street before kicking their pregnant mother (Pic credit: PA)

A dog breeder from Kilburn has been banned from keeping pets for three years - after he was caught swinging a sack of Jack Russell puppies as he sold them in the streets of Soho at 1 am.

Read more

Top Stories

Promotions

Advanced running and training technology for beginners up to elite athletes

If you’re thinking of adding running treadmill to your fitness routine, you’re on the right track! There are several advantages to running on a treadmill versus running outdoors.

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the ZOE was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

Quizzes

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more
Can you guess the Tube station just from the outside? (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How well do you know your Tube stations? Can you guess these Underground stops from the pictures taken outside them?

Read more