Oscar Wilde’s life was in many ways far more dramatic than his writing, yet his was a story deemed inappropriate fare for Victorian audiences.
Fortunately that’s not the case today. Walking Shadow Theatre Company presents “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” a play that chronicles Wilde’s fall from the height of his career to imprisonment and ultimately his early death.
Critics found this production “gripping,” “rich” and “thrilling.”
Craig Johnson is Oscar Wilde in Walking Shadow Theatre Company’s production of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”
Photo by Walking Shadow
In “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” playwright Moisés Kaufman chronicles and analyzes that undoing almost entirely out of actual documents of the time. He weaves court transcripts, newspaper articles, reviews, autobiography, literary cuttings, comments by George Bernard Shaw, and other sources into a gripping unified whole.
Moises Kaufman’s deep and rich examination of the times and motivations of those involved in the case gets a rigorous reading from Walking Shadow Theater Company and director Amy Rummenie. Craig Johnson fully inhabits the title character, bringing out not just wit, but also the depth of his mind and power of his personality and convictions.
From John Olive at HowWasTheShow.com:
Actor Craig Johnson’s layered, knowing, subtle and intelligent portrayal of Oscar Wilde is by far the best reason to see Gross Indecency: The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde… Johnson’s Wilde faces his homophobic tormentors calmly, emphasizing his passionate reverence for Art, for Beauty. His presence is beautifully understated. Rarely does he “act out.” For this Wilde, “the love that dare not speak its name” is the platonic affection of an older man for a younger – and Johnson/Wilde’s impassioned defense of this love, taken directly from the trial, thrills.
Director Amy Rummenie does an admirable job of bringing visual flair to a play built chiefly around one wit on the witness stand cleverly deflecting questions and parrying with the prosecution. Wilde was a wag nonpareil, the “Importance of Being Earnest” author extending his cocktail party persona to testimony bursting with bon mots and clever comebacks. But Johnson’s rich portrayal holds undercurrents of sadness and rage while conveying why this passionate personality was so daunting to buttoned-up Britons.
Walking Shadow Theatre Company’s production of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” runs through May 4 at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. Have you seen the show? What’s your review?