The World's End is nigh

Theatre

Corin and Vanessa Redgrave are tranforming Sunday nights at the Chelsea Centre Theatre

You would have to have been huddled in an igloo in a particularly remote part of the world not to know that Stephen Fry has just played the title role in Wilde. The film also stars Jude Law as Bosie, the object of our hero's affections and the reason for his downfall. Alas, my unceasing devotion to theatrical derring-do (and occasionally derring-don't) has meant that, as yet, this particular cinematic offering has eluded me, but the lustre of Law's performance has led Janet Maslin of The New York Times to declare it the most auspicious film debut she can remember. I can, however pass on a postscript to the amour fatale.

I once met someone who knew someone who had been at dinner in the Thirties with a group of people including Bosie. One particular young man knew nothing of his role in the scandal and innocently but indelicately brought Wilde's name into the conversation. A ghastly silence descended, broken only by Bosie remarking offhandedly, "Oh yes... we were rather thick once."

Understatement is not something you associate with the Redgraves. Lynn has taken to banging on - sorry, waxing lyrical - about her relationship with her father and her siblings. They, meanwhile, spent years dedicating their energies to the Workers' Revolutionary Party and a host of other political issues, many of which brought them into disfavour among those who readily confused personal politics and the business of acting. For years, Vanessa was persona non grata in American film, a circumstance now long in the past.

More recently, she and Corin have been grappling with theatrical issues via Moving Theatre. Vanessa has unearthed an unperformed Tennessee Williams play which predates The Glass Menagerie and will be performed at the National next year. Meantime, we have their season of prestigious Sunday night performances at the more intimate Chelsea Centre Theatre.

Events kick off tomorrow with Corin performing Wilde's extraordinarily powerful De Profundis adapted by his grandson, Merlin Holland. There's more sexual politics when Corin directs the stage premiere of Derek Jarman's Blue (16 Nov) and the season climaxes with Home Body, a brand new work by Tony Kushner, author of the magnificent Angels in America. In-between we have Just Not Fair by Jim Robinson, one of the men wrongly convicted for the murder of Carl Bridgewater, and Vanessa Redgrave in Wallace Shawn's tour de force, The Fever. Now you know what to do to fight off the Monday morning blues.

Chelsea Centre Theatre, World's End Place, Kings Road, SW10 (0171-352 1967)

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