The Judas Kiss
BAM Harvey Theater
May 28, 2016
|Photo courtesy of BAM Harvey Theatre|
The Judas Kiss, starring Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde, is presently playing at BAM Harvey Theater. The play is written by David Hare and directed by Neil Armfield. The first act takes place the afternoon before Oscar Wilde is arrested and tried for gross indecencies, and the second act takes place a few months after his release from serving his prison sentence. The production is stunning. The writing is prolific. Rupert Everett and the cast are inspiring.
The show is produced by Chichester Festival Theatre in association with Robert Fox, Theatre Royal Bath Productions, and Hampstead Theatre. The set design, by Dale Ferguson, is lavish and simple, grand and stark. Yes, these adjectives contradict one another, yet succinctly describe the skillfully crafted impact. The lighting design, by Rick Fisher, is romantic and poignant. The second act is dominated by an impactful shadow effect that brings clarity to the power struggle between Oscar Wilde and his two closer companions. These bold and detailed designs play very well in the expansive stage of the Harvey Theater.
|Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde|
Photo courtesy of BAM Harvey Tehatre
Rupert Everett skillfully portrays the complexity of Oscar Wilde with confidence and ease. He creates a gentleman with great dignity, resolve, and deep belief in his talents and value as a poet. As the second act progresses, his inner conflict is revealed and we understand why his demise is inescapable.
Cal MacAninch plays Robert Ross, one of Oscar Wilde’s closest friends. The scenes between these two actors are riveting as both men cling to their principals in the face of turmoil. In the first act Robert Ross implores Oscar to flee the country and escape into exile before his arrest, but Oscar Wilde holds firm. In Act II he pleads with Oscar to stay true to the promise he made to his wife, but Oscar refuses. Through these conflicts we gain a clear understanding of the social limitations, taboos, and expectations of the time period. These two actors are brilliant together.
|Rupert Everett & Charlie Rowe|
Photo courtesy of BAM Harvey Theatre
Charlie Rowe plays Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie), with whom Oscar Wilde has an affair that brings about his arrest and trial. The fire between these two men burns bright in Act I with passion and charm. It burns even hotter in Act II with divergence and resentment.
The Judas Kiss is about love and betrayal. It is a powerful and multilayered play that will keep you thinking long after it is over. Just when you understand Oscar Wilde’s motives, playwright David Hare takes you deeper into the fears and loss of this great artist. Neil Armfield’s masterful direction makes the profound themes easily accessible. The play is in a limited run at BAM Harvey Theater. It closes on June 12. Don’t miss it!