Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde
By Moisés Kaufman
Directed by David Gerrard
Starring Micheal Wanzie
Foot Lights Theater, Orlando FL
Oscar Wilde (Wanzie) made a career out of wit and clever dialog and worked hard to define “Art” and “Beauty”. This mad him money money, but his real interest lay with interest young men of a certain age (oh, about 19 to 21).That made him notorious. One of his association was with Lord Alfred “Boisie” Douglas (Alan Pagan). Boisie’s pop held the title of Lord of Queensbury (Chad Lewis); he promoted the Marquis of Queensbury Rules for boxing. Feisty and conservative, he was suspicious of Wilde from the begining and figured out what was going on quickly enough. Boisie egged Wilde into suing for slander; a disastrous legal maneuver that left Wilde broke and imprisoned for two years. He never recovered.
Written by Moisés Kaufman (Laramie Project) this show relies heavily on the actual trail transcripts and letters from Wilde, Boise, Queensbury and the others involved in the scandal. Mr. Wanzie makes an excellent Wilde: proud and pleading, worldly and naïve, and a man swayed by love and lust when the situation demanded logic, and ill-chosen action when he should have followed his gut. In the long-term, he’s a modern-day hero; in the short run he pretty much nuked himself and gained nothing.
Surrounding Mr. Wanzie we find a skilled and flexible cast. Lewis spit fire as Queensbury; not only was he familiar with fisticuffs, he also knew enough about the law to set inescapable traps for Wilde. Pagan’s Boise mixed a sweet romance with a calculated gamble that offered him potential vengeance on his dad at no risk to himself. And while his global strategy failed, he got off cheap and seemed hurt that Wilde abandoned him after the legal disater. While the set was minimal, there were some interesting lighting effects. The barrister’s wigs looked to be solid gold or solid silver depending in the lights. Upstage we saw a wash of either red or green light indicating the scenes and lines that were actual transcripts or commentary form the author. It’s an excellent reveal of the story of Wilde’s life and while its run time is over two hours, it keeps your interest the whole time. There are two more performances coming up, spaced several weeks apart. Check with the ticket servce for the exact date.