In the spring of 1895, Oscar Wilde was larger than life. His masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest was a hit in the West End; he was the toast of London. Yet by summer he was serving two years in prison for gross indecency.
Celebrated film and stage actor Rupert Everett captures the brilliant gay aesthete in the Hampstead Theatre production of lauded playwright David Hare's (Skylight, The Hours) 1998 play, courtesy of Chichester Festival Theatre and directed by Neil Armfield (The Diary of a Madman, 2011 Spring Season). Taking as its inspiration the "love that dare not speak its name"—Wilde's adoration for Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas—The Judas Kiss captures the before and after of Wilde's downfall: cajoled by Bosie into an ill-fated trial, then destitute and in exile in Naples following his imprisonment. The result is this multidimensional study of an icon faced with annihilation, still cleaving with remarkable sincerity to his ideals of beauty "above everything, and in all things."