Born to be Wilde: Rupert Everett excels in Judas Kiss

Jan 28, 2013

Touching, funny revival of David Hare's play finds its 'definitive star' in Rupert Everett

What you need to know
Neil Armfield's revival of David Hare's The Judas Kiss, starring Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde, has transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End. Armfield's production of Hare's 1998 play first appeared at Hampstead Theatre last year.

The play begins in 1895, when Wilde is at the height of his popularity. But even as he becomes the literary toast of the town, his hopelessly romantic affair with young Lord Alfred Douglas sets in motion his betrayal, imprisonment, and vilification.

Freddie Fox plays Lord Alfred Douglas (also known as Bosie). Until 6 April.

What the critics like
Hare's vision of Oscar Wilde's downfall finds its definitive star in Rupert Everett, says Libby Purves in The Times. Everett is "brittle and romantic, flippant and profound", he veers from tears to mockery and finally "achieves his tragic grandeur".

Armfield's fine production is greatly helped by Everett's "brilliant and deeply felt" performance as Wilde, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. It's "hauntingly sad and touching," with moments of "gamy humour and eroticism" (and a lot of male nudity). Everett was born to play this role.

Armfield's extraordinarily moving revival of Hare's underestimated play is "obligatory viewing", says Paul Taylor in The Independent.

What they don't like
If the play has a flaw, it's that Freddie Fox's Bosie is foppish, self-obsessed and manipulative, making it too hard to like him, or see why Wilde loved him, says Henry Hitchins in the Evening Standard. But ultimately The Judas Kiss is "worth seeing for Everett, who gives the performance of his career".

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