Members say: Great acting, Intelligent, Absorbing, Slow, Great writing

About the show

BAM presents David Hare's multidimensional study of esteemed 19th-century playwright Oscar Wilde (Rupert Everett), who quickly went from success to exile.

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In the spring of 1895, Oscar Wilde was larger than life. His masterpiece, 'The Importance of Being Earnest,' was a hit in the West End and he was the toast of London. Yet by summer he was arrested for gross indecency and embarking on an ill-fated trial. Wilde’s adoration for Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas was his downfall.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"How do you create dynamic drama with a hero who refuses to move? Armfield’s luxurious revival doesn’t solve that problem...This production artfully illuminates the greatest, most operatic contradiction that Mr. Hare’s Oscar embodies. That’s love as a force both sacred and profane...The second biggest problem with 'Judas': As written — and as played — Bosie isn’t worthy of anyone’s love...Which means 'The Judas Kiss' is without friction as well as without motion." Full Review

New York Post

"Rupert Everett, barely recognizable in a padded suit and prosthetic makeup, plays Oscar Wilde in the late 1890s, when the writer was tried for 'gross indecency' for his affair with Lord Alfred 'Bosie' Douglas...There’s delicious indecency from actor Tom Colley, who spends 20 minutes reclining in the nude. That, unfortunately, is the only rise David Hare’s gabby drama provokes." Full Review


"We know about Wilde's tragic end, but we have a hard time believing that he took it so tragically the whole time. In so thoroughly canonizing Wilde, Hare and Armfield rob him of that which makes him so special: His irreverent wit and propensity to treat all serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality. Worse, it gives Wilde no real emotional journey, rendering this drama not just depressing, but sleepy." Full Review


"The elegantly faded and crumbled interior of BAM's Harvey Theatre is a most appropriate venue…As written, and particularly as performed by a captivating Rupert Everett, the central character becomes rather elegantly faded and crumbled himself…While Everett masterfully delivers the sardonic Wilde wit that Hare sprinkles into the proceedings, there's a tender wistfulness about him in director Neil Armfield's melancholy production." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Everett delivers a performance that deserves to become legendary...The play is admittedly a bit slow and talky...Still, there are many moving moments...The witticisms are, not surprisingly, delivered with exquisite comic timing by Everett. But his performance goes much deeper. Wearing a fat suit and a wig, the dashing actor is virtually unrecognizable in the role, but the weight of his portrayal is as emotional as it is physical." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Everett could hardly be better in a role he seems to have grown himself toward...In the process the play, too, grows toward the brilliance of its subject...The play’s flaw is too essential to be repaired so Armfield has had the good sense to highlight it instead. As Bosie, Charlie Rowe does nothing (except look good) to mitigate the character’s awfulness...Importantly, this production is also much more beautiful than the earlier one." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A vast improvement over the 1998 Broadway engagement, if only because Rupert Everett is so much better than Liam Neeson as Wilde...But two full acts of dramatic stasis prove to be too much; Wilde's passivity in the face of such adversity might provide rich material for drama, but Hare seems only interested in sanctifying it…It's a strange experience to have one of English literature's great wits treated with so much reverence and so little wit." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Some of the problems that plagued the initial run are still present. Wilde’s passivity has a way of dulling dramatic tension...But there’s pleasure and substance to be found here, too. Many of the quips sound a lot like Wilde — in part, because many are from Wilde. Others don’t, yet they’re amusing all the same. And for all Wilde’s inactivity, the play does ultimately present his downfall as a kind of tragic inevitability." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Wilde is played to perfection by Rupert Everett, who channels the legendary writer at every turn—his wit, charm, exasperating ways and inexplicable Bosie obsession. His sharp, rueful performance alone is worth the price of admission...Hare tries to reconcile Wilde’s public and private selves, to determine why he participates in his own downfall...'The Judas Kiss' isn’t so much a dramatic effort as a compelling examination into the complexities and contradictions of Wilde." Full Review

The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Everett’s performance is a creative impersonation of breathtaking authority...One of the failings of 'The Judas Kiss' is that Mr. Hare, much to my surprise, has idealized Wilde’s personality...Even more disappointing are the one-note performances of the actors cast in the key supporting roles...I wouldn’t have wanted to miss seeing Mr. Everett, nor should you, but be forewarned that you’re more than likely to go home feeling let down.” Full Review

AM New York

"Wearing a fat suit, Everett delivers a wonderfully detailed and nuanced performance that captures Wilde’s flamboyance, wit and generosity but also stresses his vulnerabilities...Unfortunately, Neil Armfield’s spare and uneven production does not make a strong case for the play...The first act is packed with drama, but the second act is downbeat and static. Other than Wilde, the characters are painted thin, especially the detestable Bosie." Full Review

New York Daily News

"The first act in David Hare’s 1998 vivid but verbose play takes place right before Wilde is imprisoned for his out-and-loud sexuality. The second unfolds after his release from the clink and his handsome blue-blood lover cavalierly betrays him. Neil Armfield’s staging comes with a fine performances by Everett and company, moody atmosphere and exposed skin, especially from a minor character with a major physique." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“It’s a wonderfully performed and written piece, even if it was just this one act, but act two takes us deeper into the dark and complicated relationship of Bosie and Wilde...Everett inhabits the part as if it were tailor-made for him...Directed impeccably by Neil Armfield, with the help of Hare’s beautiful text...The final kiss goodbye leaves us all watching and waiting for a witty and sly comment from Wilde, and what we get is something more powerful: a still and silent all-knowing stare.” Full Review


"The problem with the play--which was also true in its Broadway production in 1998 which starred Liam Neeson (who was not terribly convincing)--is that it is extremely static. Also we know how things turned out so there is no suspense as to the outcome." Full Review

The Wrap

"Critics can now see 'The Judas Kiss' for what it always has been: one of the great plays of the late 20th century...Everett doesn’t make all the difference, which is not to say his performance is anything short of a revelation...As expected, Everett is great at delivering bon mots and epigrams. A lesser playwright would have filled the play with Wilde’s own words...What is totally unexpected in Everett’s portrayal is a heavy lugubriousness that somehow never bogs down the humor." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Rupert Everett’s performance is superb, not to be missed, though a little rushed in the first act…Bosie played by Charlie Rowe, is channeling the spirit of his character, excellent in his portrayal of this well-spoken and egotistic young man…For the most part, David Hare has done a wonderful job portraying these historic figures in 'The Judas Kiss,' while director Neil Armfield has fleshed out their frailties and strengths successfully." Full Review


"Do people – and plays – deserve a second chance? These thoughts ran rapidly through my mind while watching Armfield’s often stunning production of David Hare’s 'The Judas Kiss'…Everett captures Wilde’s wit, pride, self-delusion and self-destruction magnificently, lending both heft and pathos to Hare’s work…His actions place him as somewhere between a martyr and a fool, and 'The Judas Kiss' somewhere between Greek tragedy and tragicomedy." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“Engrossingly staged by director Neil Armfield with a superb performance as Oscar Wilde by Rupert Everett...One comes away with admiration for Everett’s performance and a fresh view of the tragedy of what Wilde had to endure in the face of the vicious prejudice of his time, and the devastating complications it brought to his life and relationships.” Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Everett delivers a convincing portrayal of Wilde during his public disgrace that captures the author’s endearing combination of wit, vanity, kindness and self-destructiveness. Alas, there’s not much else to compliment here. Under Armfield’s brisk direction, the other actors all do a decent job. But they are trapped by Hare’s cartoonish text, which turns a complex and fascinating story into a crude morality play." Full Review


“The revival delivers neither weightless comedic banter nor thrilling tragic conflict...The one aspect of director Neil Armfield’s staid production likely to raise the pulse is its prolonged stretches of male nudity...Despite occasional outbursts of genuine feeling, Everett’s Wilde seems remote, more put-on than lived in. Rowe’s one-note performance as his young sparring partner doesn’t help, nor does the fact that they seem anything but in love.” Full Review


“With impressive dexterity, Hare has written dialogue for Wilde that measures up to the man’s legendary wit. For his part, Everett achieves the elusive theatrical magic of a larger-than-life yet utterly believable performance. Indeed the whole action bubbles in a heady broth of elevated naturalism, a recipe Hare balances so masterfully...A few cheap lapses mar the script here...All in all, we’re lucky that Armfield and the Chichester Festival Theatre have crafted this revival.” Full Review


"Everett's performance is about all 'The Judas Kiss' has going for it…Hare's play is a static, talky affair that tells much more than it shows, and that never really allows us to understand the central relationship…This revival does itself no favors by attempting to fill the cavernous Harvey Theatre space…Instead of making a case that 'The Judas Kiss' is one of Hare's least appreciated plays, this revival mostly just makes it seem very confused and dated." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Few actors could be better suited to play Wilde than Everett, who has devoted himself to the role in both look and temperament...The banter between Wilde and Bosie is lost in the latter’s one-dimensional delivery, which was shouty and unmeasured. Rather than a battle of wits, the dialog between the two men is one-sided...Hare’s writing is terrific here and throughout, and so evocative of Wilde. But director Neil Armfield doesn’t let the words penetrate and so much of the play is lost." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Rupert Everett has found the role of his career...Neil Armfield’s staging has given Hare’s play the heft of real tragedy...Everett handles the timing and the wit with ease, and he’s physically right as well...Everett inhabits the contradictions, the wit, the passion and the foolishness, in a multifaceted, riveting performance...Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch for Hare to cast Wilde as a Christ figure, but it’s not hammered at heavily." Full Review


"Though Mr. Everett is controlled enough to translate Wilde’s puckish humor into bitterness, he cannot rehabilitate a script that is tonally inappropriate and employs moralizing to mask emotional vacancy. Mr. Hare wrote in an introduction to 'The Judas Kiss' that 'the true subject of my play is not Wilde, but love; not Bosie, but betrayal.' When the kiss finally does come, I found no evidence of either." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Great acting, Masterful, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if enjoy historical plays; like Rupert Everett; want to see a well acted drama about Oscar Wilde

Don't see it if you don't like gay topic; nudity; historical plays

Also Staging of this David Hare drama was exquisite; seeing Rupert Everett ... Read more Read less

Exquisite, Witty, Memorable, Brillant

See it if You enjoyed tortured tales - this a painful and true story

Don't see it if If plays about artists irritate you or if seemingly illogical choices drive you nutty

Also The advertisements are correct – Everett really was destined to play W... Read more Read less

Great acting, Disappointing, Excruciating, Dated

See it if you want to see a beautiful, naked man for nearly the wh0le second act or a great performance by Everett. Or are fascinated by Wilde.

Don't see it if you don't want to sit through a slow, plodding, boring first act to see said naked man.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Great writing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you're interested in an intelligent, historically and biographically based play about Oscar Wilde, with a good performance by Rupert Everett

Don't see it if you're looking for a masterful production. The play is better than this production shows, and the Bosie is particularly weak.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, Entertaining

See it if you're a Wilde devotee or a Rupert Everett fan. You enjoy historical shows or are interested in gay themes. Beautifully acted and resonant

Don't see it if you're not a fan of Wilde or plays that make you think. This play starts a conversation you'll have to finish on your own time

Intelligent, Attractive, Distancing, Impressive central performance

See it if you're seduced by smart writing, a perfectly cast Rupert Everett, naked young beautiful actors, & an admirable lack of overt sentimentality.

Don't see it if you feel betrayed by a (maybe accurate) use of a grating Bosie, willfully self-destructive Wilde &staging that puts it all far away from us.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Relevant

See it if You enjoy top-notch acting.

Don't see it if You are close-minded.

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you are a big fan of Oscar Wilde or want to learn more about his life.

Don't see it if you don't have a particular interest in the subject matter. It is slow at times.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You enjoy first class acting and a show that makes you rethink your definition of unconditional love.

Don't see it if You're not interested in a story about questionable actions and gay centric themes.

Ambitious, Great acting, Slow, Long-winded, Intriguing premise

See it if You enjoy period pieces, especially David Hare's "behind closed doors" dramas. Also, if you want to see a great lead performance.

Don't see it if You prefer 90 minute plays, or are easily put off by more telling than showing.

Great acting, Banal, Disappointing, Slow, Outdated

See it if only if you are a fan of Rupert Everett .

Don't see it if expect clever, witty dialogue as per Oscar Wilde, or/and would have liked a better written play; this one was mediocre at its best

Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Romantic

See it if you are interested in the life of Oscar Wilde, appreciate great acting, and enjoy original stories

Don't see it if you are homophobic

Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you want to see a strong performance from Rupert Everett; if you're interested in the historical story of Oscar Wilde...

Don't see it if language-driven/heavy plays aren't your thing; if you don't enjoy extended, full-frontal displays of male nudity

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You like good acting with some things to think about society and relationships.

Don't see it if If you are offended by nudity.

Great acting, Slow, Interesting, Entertaining

See it if you like historical fiction, Oscar Wilde, & flawed characters. It's well written & acted.

Don't see it if this is slow and Everett looks way older than Wilde's mid-40s. It can get tedious at points. Male nudity bothers you. Borderline pedantic.

Great acting, Intense

See it if An excellent production of a mediocre play; great acting and staging

Don't see it if uneven material; avoid if offended by nudity, heavy on drama - light on action.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You like great acting, clever dialogue, conversation and wit.

Don't see it if You are bored easily or are not a David Hare fan

Great acting, Intelligent, Engaging, Great staging, 2nd act drags

See it if You are interested in Oscar Wilde and his story, if you are curious about this new incarnation of the play, if you like Rupert Everett

Don't see it if If you don't like plays that are wordy. If you're put off by nudity. The second act is also significantly slower than the first.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Slow

See it if you're an Oscar Wilde and/or Rupert Everett fan, you like magnificent acting & weighty themes (love, betrayal, history of gay oppression)

Don't see it if you don't like a languid pace, British accents, stories with gay themes, Rupert Everett, Oscar Wilde, downbeat scenarios; object to nudity.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Raunchy, Great writing

See it if you want a great performance by Rupert Everett. He transform into the actor of Oscar Wilde masterfully done. Great acting by the entire cast

Don't see it if you can't handle full front male nudity for 15 minutes. If you have problems with a dark drama and homosexuality.

Funny, Slow, Uneven acting, Hideous set

See it if You want to see a great performance by Rupert Everett in a play that has good writing but isn't terribly interesting.

Don't see it if Male (and some female) nudity offends you. Or if you're equally offended by horrible sets and lighting.

Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Raunchy, Slow

See it if you are interested in the life of Oscar Wilde and you want to see a fine performance by Rupert Everett.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with extended full frontal nudity.

Great acting, Slow, Interesting, Informative

See it if You are interested in Oscar Wilde or enjoy biopic dramas. Everett gives an excellent performance & it's an interesting story.

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with nudity or LGBT themes.

Clever, Great acting, Great writing

See it if great show//Talented cast that tells a fascinating story.

Don't see it if you don't like semi biographic plays...

Original, Ambitious, Great acting, Great writing, Cliched

See it if You like great performances, but aren't dependent on "likeable" characters. It's entertaining, and has a lot of dry humor.

Don't see it if You're looking for fun comedy, or a lot going on. You have to pay attention, or you'll miss a lot of the big, quiet moments.

Cast & Creatives (15)