Sumptuous trip hazards and cheekiness: The Judas Kiss @HampsTheatre
With a stage draped in rich, chocolate-coloured velvet there were two thoughts in my head, well three actually. Firstly, how sumptuous; secondly, someone is bound to trip or slip (Rupert Everett did) and, thirdly, where does one go about getting a piece of velvet that colour and of that size (not that I want some, just curious).
The velvet forms the back drop for a posh London hotel room where David Hare's play The Judas Kiss charts the tempestuous relationship between playwright and poet Oscar Wilde (Everett) and Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas (Freddie Fox) at two key points in their lives.
In the first half, the velvet half, Wilde is holed up in the hotel with the press gathering outside and rumours of his imminent arrest for sodomy and gross indecency circling, having got into a spat with Bosie's father. On one side his friend Robbie Ross (Cal Macaninch) is trying to persuade him to flee abroad instead of the almost certainty that he'll end up in prison.
On the other, Bosie wants him to stay and fight for his name and reputation believing that if he lives out the rest of his life in exile he and his work will quickly be forgotten. Bosie also hates his father and doesn't want him to win.
In the second half the action moves to Naples post Wilde's imprisonment. The chocolate velvet is replaced with a gauzy white material which gathers on the floor around a single bed at the back of the stage (less to trip over) where we find Bosie in a post-coital slumber with a local fisherman. Let's just say that when the two awaken there is more than a little 'cheekiness' on display with the men feeling very relaxed in their surroundings and Wilde drinking in the view.
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