Play of the week: The Judas Kiss, Duke of York's, London WC2
Friday 25 January 2013
David Hare was spot-on when he said that "there's a sort of line where you can't tell where Wilde ends and Rupert [Everett] begins".
A Wildean gift for rising above the catastrophic with a penetrating flippancy makes Everett heaven-casting in Hare's The Judas Kiss. This West End transfer of Neil Armfield's moving Hampstead Theatre revival brings an impressive acuity to the difference between Wilde and Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas (Freddie Fox).
"The governing principle of my life has been love," Wilde tells him. "But of yours, it has been power." That's the key line of a drama which, full of suggestive symmetries, zeroes in on two moments in Wilde's life.
In the first, facing arrest for gross indecency, he declines to flee to the continent; in the second, he defies an ultimatum to abandon Bosie on the day that Bosie deserts him. Everett's magnificently searching performance shows you the humane self-sacrifice and the calamitous obduracy of this stance. Obligatory viewing.
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