'The Judas Kiss' - Play Review

I think the last time I went to a play was probably 30 years ago, so it's been a while. But quite recently I was ranting about how Rupert Everett was born to do Oscar Wilde's plays, both on this blog and to friends. And one of those friends pointed out that Rupert Everett was, in fact, in Toronto performing in "The Judas Kiss," a play by David Hare about Oscar Wilde's life. We saw it at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on May 1, the last performance in Toronto.

The first half of the play takes place in a hotel room in London. Much is made of the hotel staff, but the important players are Rupert Everett as Wilde, his young lover Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas (played by Charlie Rowe), and Wilde's former lover and more practical friend, Robert "Robbie" Ross (Cal MacAninch). It's the end of Wilde's trial for gross indecency, and he has a window of opportunity to flee the country before his arrest. Robbie encourages him in this, but Bosie wants him to stay and he does.

The second half of the play finds Wilde in Naples after his incarceration, again with Bosie - who brings boys home with him every night. There's a short visit from Robbie. All of them are very poor, and Wilde has clearly been badly broken by his time in jail.

Even with carefully hidden microphones and amplification, plays need the actors to address the audience to a certain degree, and I found that a bit distracting - it's not something I'm accustomed to. The play was good, but not revelatory - and at $120 a ticket, I had hoped for revelatory. I don't regret going, but I expect it'll be another decade before I return to the theatre.