8.03.2006

wilde

We saw The Importance Of Being Earnest at Soulpepper yesterday, and it was very good. They seem to do better with comedies (which doesn't bode well for their upcoming production of King Lear). Earnest is a great play, hilarious, biting, brilliantly skewering - and the last Oscar Wilde wrote before he was imprisoned, banished, and died.

It's amazing and horrifying to think of what Wilde endured - even more so when you realize that he courted his own agony by refusing to be anyone but himself. Had he been willing or able to keep his same-sex relationships more secretive, as almost everyone else of his generation did, he might have lived out the rest of his life in the comfortable society that his plays lampooned. Instead he held his head up - asking "What's wrong with how I live?" - and it was chopped off. He was a man radically, fatally ahead of his time.

We were lucky to see Liam Neeson play Oscar Wilde in David Hare's play The Judas Kiss. (Oh boy, that makes me miss New York!) We also saw Stephen Fry as Wilde in the movie "Wilde". Both were excellent - moving, sad, and eye-opening. They were part of a bit of Wildemania, as a good dozen plays and movies were produced in connection with what would have been Wilde's 150th birthday. Here's a review of several of them, here's a good page about Wilde and Stephen Fry, this is Oscar Wilde's Wikipedia entry.

Wilde's plays should be produced often, and his story should be told and retold.

2 comments:

James said...

It's amazing and horrifying to think of what Wilde endured - even more so when you realize that he courted his own agony by refusing to be anyone but himself.

I don't know if you're familiar with the great British mathematician Alan Turing. He was instrumental in breaking the Engima code used by the Germans, and helped develope the foundations of the modern mathematical theory of computing.

He was also gay, which came out when he reported a burglary which turned out to have been done by a former lover. The Crown sentenced him to hormone treatments (effectively, chemical castration) and revoked his security clearance, leaving him unable to work. Two years later he was killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple.

The Alan Turing Memorial, near the gay village in Manchester, depicts Turing sitting on a park bench, holding an apple.

L-girl said...

Thanks for that link. There was an excellent biopic about Alan Turing, produced by PBS in the mid 90s, called "Breaking The Code", based on the book by Alan Hodges of the same name. Derek Jacobi - one of my favourite actors - played Turing. It was brilliant, and heartbreaking.