In David Hare’s 1998 play about Oscar Wilde, it is not the witticisms and aphorisms of Hare’s subject that take the breath away, but the sophistry of his spoilt young lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. He hoists even his basest betrayals of Wilde to the moral high ground with declarations about his own integrity and talent, of which he has none.
Neil Armfield’s gripping production, seen earlier at Hampstead Theatre, is anchored by two superb performances, with Rupert Everett as a serene Wilde and an equally captivating Freddie Fox as the porcelain-brittle Douglas, aka “Bosie”.
Set in a room in London’s Cadogan Hotel in the tense 24 hours before Wilde’s incarceration for gross indecency, and in Naples just after his release, it is a play about destruction — of the self in Wilde’s case, or of others in Douglas’s. (www.dukeofyorkstheatre.co.uk)