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Rob Nagle (left) as Oscar Wilde and Colin Bates (right) as Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. Photo by Jenny Graham / Boston Court Pasadena.

Remaining perfs — Saturday at 2:00pm. & 8.00pm

Sunday at 2:00pm.

Eye-candy and a powerhouse performance. Rob Nagle shines as Oscar Wilde within a solid ensemble at Boston Court Pasadena. For The Judas Kiss, British playwright Sir David Hare delves into the lead up and fallout of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde’s scandal and disgrace at the hands of his young lover Lord Alfred Douglas, aka “Bosie,” in London, circa 1895.

After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, Wilde became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Hare’s play charts the circumstances of Wilde’s criminal conviction for homosexuality, and his imprisonment, while pointing towards his early death at age 46.

Hare balances his portrayal of the three central historical figures of Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas (Colin Bates) and Robert “Robbie” Ross (Darius De La Cruz) with the addition of fictitious characters:

There’s Sandy Moffatt (Will Dixon), a hotel manager who is implied to be a homosexual; Arthur Wellesley (Matthew Campbell Dowling), a member of the hotel staff; Phoebe Cane (Mara Klein), a recently hired maid and love interest of Arthur Wellesley; and Galileo Masconi (gorgeously played by a yawning, smiling Kurt Kanazawa), an Italian fisherman with whom Bosie has an affair in Act Two.

Act One opens in dim light to a sensual scene of lovemaking between two young and lithe bodies. It’s soon revealed to be a tryst between two of the hotel staff, Phoebe and Arthur, in the hotel guest’s bed. Eventually Wilde arrives, bringing with him a whirlwind of scandal, trauma and exasperation.

Oscar Wilde’s spoiled and reckless young lover Bosie has succeeded in instigating Wilde to sue Bosie’s aristocratic father in court for insulting him as a “sodomite.” The loss of the suit opens the way for Wilde being criminally indicted for gross indecency. Wilde has tacit government permission to flee the country to avoid arrest, trial, and imprisonment, but the irresponsible Bosie insists that he stay and defend their honor.

Nagle’s performance as the larger-than-life poet and playwright is riveting. In portraying the depths of this romantic individualist and tragic victim, Nagle navigates a dizzying symphony of emotions and decisions, never losing his scintillating wit. Hare’s text is full of lines that make you snort with laughter or laugh outright, yet Nagle never lets you forget the heartbreaking drama that simmers beneath his ripostes.

Act Two is set in Italy, two years after Wilde’s two-year incarceration, where he has reunited  with the unbelievably selfish Bosie. Now a broken man, Wilde is holed up in exile from the UK in a rat-infested hotel in Naples.

A fellow actor, Justin Okin, remarked on Rob Nagle’s performance by observing, “You invite and allow the audience to see you (and thus Wilde) from every angle. Rather than wrapping the character around you, you strip yourself and show us Wilde inside of you. It is a profound lesson in the simplicity of great acting.” Indeed, it is. The breadth and depth of Nagle’s towering and sensitive performance is astonishing.

Direction and staging by Artistic Director Michael Michetti is faultless. Costumes by Dianne K, Graebner and scenic design by Se Hyun Oh perfectly reproduce the period style. The Judas Kiss is a superb play and cast; only a few performances remain.

Rob Nagle (right) as Oscar Wilde and Colin Bates (left) as Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas. Photo by Jenny Graham / Boston Court Pasadena.

 

The Judas Kiss

Written by David Hare

Directed by Michael Michetti

February 15 – March 24, 2019

Performances:

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00pm;

Remaining perfs — Saturday at 2:00pm. & 8.00pm

Sunday at 2:00pm.

Running Time:

2 hours 40 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

 

Tickets and Information:

Boston Court Pasadena

70 N Mentor Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106

Website: BostonCourtPasadena.org

Phone: 626.683.6801

Prices: $20 – $39.00

 

AGE & CONTENT GUIDELINES: Please note that this production contains nudity, and is recommended for ages 17+. No children under age 13 will be admitted.

The Judas Kiss is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

 

About Boston Court Pasadena

Located in Pasadena, California, Boston Court Pasadena is nonprofit arts center primarily dedicated to new and original work by living artists. Founded in 2003 by philanthropist Z. Clark Branson, Boston Court features a state-of-the-art, intimate facility designed to bring audiences and artists closer together. The 80-seat Marjorie Branson Performance Space and the 99-seat Main Stage serve as homes for Boston Court’s season of bold, risky theatre and its eclectic, diverse music series. Boston Court is also the home of an annual new play reading festival, an Emerging Artists Series, as well as Art Upfront, a rotating visual arts program. Boston Court is led by an 14-member Board of Directors, Executive Director Kyle Clausen, and Artistic Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti (Theatre), and Mark Saltzman (Music).

Key funding is provided by Los Angeles County Arts Commission, The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Shubert Foundation, The Colburn Foundation, Lazy L Foundation, Pasadena Arts & Cultural Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, The Amphion Foundation, and the Z. Clark Branson Foundation. The 2019 theatre season is sponsored by the S. Mark Taper Foundation.

 

 

Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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