THEATRE / David Benedict on theatre

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Despite a succession of strange coincidences alluded to in the press kit - including the author's early ear infection eerily mirroring Wilde's ear operation - I managed to miss Wilde About Oscar. Perhaps there's something in the water supply, but everywhere you look there's more Wilde.

Last year saw The Importance of Being Maggie, sorry, Earnest, Peter Hall's An Ideal Husband and now we have the brave Francesca Annis brandishing Lady Windermere's Fan. And then there was The Picture of Dorian Gray. . .

David Hare is at work on a screenplay, there has already been a production at the Hen and Chickens this year and Gloria's remarkable production is selling out at the new, improved Lyric Hammersmith (see Critic's Choice, above). Next up is a version using an integrated ensemble of deaf and hearing actors from Show of Hands (right).

Does the ornate, epigrammatic nature of the writing present problems? Director, Michael Gray, thinks not. 'We just did a highly physicalised Twelfth Night, which is also strongly reliant on a highly complex use of language. It's ridiculous to reduce theatre for the deaf to simplistic movement work.'

He is also working with an all-male cast. 'I think the women in the novel are rather token. This also brings out the veiled subtext, but I've kept it as subtext. It's about sin, and if you make his sin homosexuality, what exactly does that say to an audience?'

Show of Hands' 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' opens on 27 Sept at BAC (071-223 2223)

(Photograph omitted)