The Importance of Being Oscar – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Written by Micheál MacLiammóir
Micheál MacLiammóir in his semi-autobiographical work “An Oscar of No Importance” recounts his life with this play which he performed around the world after its premiere in the Gaiety as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1960. On the front dust jacket of the book there is a green carnation while on the back, MacLiammóir stands looking into the middle distance adjusting a carnation on the lapel of his dinner jacket. It appears originally the play lasted in excess of two hours. Obviously this time period is not feasible for a lunch time production and this adaptation lasts just under one hour.
Michael Judd, who tells the story, eschews all Wildean flamboyance in his clothing and is dressed calmly with an open neck shirt with a quietly checked waistcoat. He sits in a comfortable chair with a small table beside him on which resides a decanter and wine glass. On the right hand side there is a pedestal with a vase of lilies which does add a whiff of excess to the space. Such a flower also appeared in the original production. There is no sign of a green carnation.
The play begins with the recitation of the poem Helas and then traverses Wilde’s career with snippets of Wilde’s oeuvre, his sayings and of course the tragedy of his unwise fight with the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover Lord Alfred Douglas. This fight resulted in Wilde being imprisoned for two years with hard labour in Reading Gaol. Although he survived the ordeal physically his health had been damaged and he died in Paris less than three years later.
Michael Judd has a voice very different in timbre to MacLiammóir’s resonating lush tones consequently he steers clear of any imitation. His is quite a light voice with which he enunciates clearly the words. His delivery is restrained but in awe and reverential. Wilde’s genius as always entertains as Judd takes MacLiammóir’s homage to Oscar Wilde and makes it his own.
Performed by Michael Judd
Directed by Sinead Colreavy
With original music from New York composer Nico Kean