January 25, 2013 |
Must perfection always be so temporary? More than we realize, replies Oscar Wilde in his play An Ideal Husband, if only because it never really exists. The road to such a conclusion is a nasty tale of ruthless blackmail unfolding in upper-class Victorian England that proceeds so confidently, you may leave the Walnut Street Theatre's handsome new production wondering why the play isn't done as often as The Importance of Being Earnest . The cast was uneven in significant places at Wednesday's opening.
January 23, 2016 |
Oscar Wilde: From the Depths is a bio-drama about the author of some of the most delightfully witty social comedies ever written. Lantern Theater Company is presenting the world premiere of Charles McMahon's play - in which delight, wit, social comedy, and general theatrical joy are in very short supply. This is Wilde in earnest mode, sloshing around in self-pity and sentimentality, reciting long passages from his books as though they were conversation. The play's subtitle is the English version of De Profundis , Wilde's long letter to his lover, Bosie, which he wrote while in prison for "gross indecency.
November 23, 2014 |
Three previously unknown Oscar Wilde items have surfaced in the Free Library of Philadelphia's rare-book collection and are being greeted by scholars and aficionados as perhaps one of the most important Wilde discoveries in decades. The emergence of a typescript of the play Salome hand-corrected by Wilde, a 142-page personal notebook in which he drafted poems and doodled line drawings, and an unpublished four-page manuscript from his famous poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol have put the Free Library at the center of a happy storm of attention.
December 3, 2000 |
A hundred years ago last Thursday, having declared that "the wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death," Oscar Wilde expired in the Hotel d'Alsace in Paris - disgraced, impoverished, humiliated, but with his unparalleled wit intact. Now, with the once scandalous writer's international reputation higher than it has ever been - his achievements as scintillating playwright, incomparable aphorism machine and inspirational modernist and gay icon unchallenged - the importance of being Oscar Wilde's only living grandson cannot be exaggerated.
July 30, 1988 |
"The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer," joked Oscar Wilde. Salome's Last Dance, a Ken Russell life-imitates-art potpourri incorporating Wilde's banned one-acter, Salome, lasts longer than a caprice and a lifelong passion put together, and unfortunately is no joke. Staged with the elan of a frat-house theatrical, Russell's movie has all the decadence of a hazing ritual. (Eek! Topless female spear-carriers roughing up John the Baptist!
May 24, 2002 |
In the fussy hands of writer/director Oliver Parker, The Importance of Being Earnest is a punishingly funny (emphasis on the pun) Oscar Wilde bonbon that arrives wrapped in an abundance of tissue and ribbons. Despite the sparkling source material in the 1895 farce subtitled A Trivial Play for Serious People, despite pitch-perfect performances by Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor and Reese Witherspoon, despite good taste and good will, this romp through Victorian parlors frequently falls flat on its rump.
May 3, 1998 |
For those whose memories need jogging, a background note in the Playbill sets the scene: In 1895, his slander suit against the Marquess of Queensberry having collapsed, Oscar Wilde faced the likelihood of arrest on charges of gross indecency - in other words, homosexual activity - with a tawdry parade of former sex partners prepared to testify against him. At this moment, for a few hours, the famous aesthete had a choice - to flee England, his...
February 4, 2015 |
The new opera Oscar , about the demise of Oscar Wilde - poet, playwright, aesthete, wit - arrives Friday at the Academy of Music courtesy of Opera Philadelphia, and at an uncertain juncture: Though its authors and cast resolutely stand behind it, and the piece had good audience support at its 2013 Santa Fe Opera premiere, critics were underwhelmed. The 1895 trial for "gross indecency" that left Wilde jailed for two years and a broken man, dead at 46, is considered one of the great tragedies of British literature.
September 21, 2002 |
The Importance of Being Earnest is filled with fatuous people moving through a sublimely silly plot. But if a production of the Oscar Wilde play is to succeed, the actors can't play their characters as fools, nor can the inane story be patronized. It is important that the whole be presented, well, earnestly. In the Hedgerow Theatre production it is. Director Jared Reed makes sure his actors don't turn their characters into the caricatures found in some productions, and that they take themselves, their situation, and their fellow characters seriously.
June 23, 2007 |
Considering how little theater survives from the era of Oscar Wilde, the durability of his 1895 featherweight comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest is best left untested. Or so it seemed prior to the updating and gender reversal at the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival on Thursday. Wilde words weren't always comfortably framed, but in a limited way the play thrived. Upon entering the Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5, viewer expectations needed to be immediately adjusted.