Wednesday, 8 September 1999

Wilde Inside, 8 Sep 1999

Adapted by Frank Gallacher from De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
at Beckett Theatre, from Sep 8, 1999
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

How difficult it is to understand another's love, obsession and degradation. In his monodrama, "Wilde Inside", Frank Gallacher reaches inside the magnificent Oscar Wilde and shows us his torn and bleeding heart.

Wilde plumbed the depths of sadness by the end of his life. 'De Profundis", the title of his 80 page letter to his heartless, absent lover, Alfred "Bosie" Lord Douglas, came from the murky depths of anguish and pain as he languished in prison.

The letter was written during the last six months of his two years hard labour in Reading Gaol where he was imprisoned for homosexuality. Prior to this, in his tiny cell, he had access to no pen, paper or books. For Wilde, a man of art, wit and society, this was equivalent to a living death.

Gallacher, one of our finest actors, adapted the larger work, De Profundis, selecting sections of text suitable for the stage. His is a superbly crafted performance that sweeps gracefully between Wilde's passion and pain. Collette Mann directs him with great sensitivity. Together they have created a theatrical piece from the letter.

The cell is conjured by a wonderfully claustrophobic design (Gail Thomlinson, Donna McCrum) and complex, evocative lighting (John Hall, Michele Preshaw).

As Wilde, Gallacher prowls around his 3 square metres of cell or perches on the edge of his cot, speaking his heart to Bosie who betrayed, abused, manipulated and bankrupted him. At first, he speaks with passion and anger about his humiliation accusing Bosie of obstructing his creativity.

He tells stories of Bosie's abandonment and neglect of him. He tells of Bosie's father, the Marquis of Queensberry's, relentless quest to ruin Wilde and send him to gaol for seducing his son. This is a family that should have been slaughtered at birth. Both Bosie and his father are cruel, self-absorbed and untouchable. They are emotional psychopaths.

Wilde's rage shifts gears into religious fervour. He waxes lyrical about Christ, speaking poetically about sorrow and forgiveness. His public humiliation is an act of contrition, his weeping and loss of laughter a purge of his sins.

The horror of the piece is that Wilde, after raging at Bosie, is willing to forgive him. He loved Bosie blindly and tragically. Gallacher shows us this Wilde, flesh stripped back to the bone still willing to suffer more at the hands of his wretched lover.

by Kate Herbert

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