The Judas Kiss by playwright David Hare Old Fitzroy Theatre Sydney, AUS February 15 – March 11, 2017
Sydney’s Old Fitzroy and its theatre operation is a cultural touchstone that uniquely links generations in a town slavishly fixated to the latest fad. A bar without posturing that holds its history and popularity. Nightlife without the Old Fitzroy's could not be a blander proposition.
With over 100 years of history, it contains the only pub theatre on terra australis.
In 2015, Red Line Productions re-opened the doors of the legendary Old Fitz Theatre - a venue that was built in 1997 by a group of passionate theatre makers.
Alumni from the tiny Old Fitz stage include Tim Minchin, Kate Mulvany, Mark Priestley, Toby Schmitz, Ewen Leslie, Brendan Cowell, Blazey Best, Christopher Stollery, Travis Cotton, Ella Scott Lynch, Patrick Brammell and Leon Ford.
The fact that the confines of the Old Fitzroy are very conducive to conjure an intimate environment eventually led to The Old Fitz establishing itself as a quality ensemble theatre.
Enter David Hare’s Judas Kiss:
In the spring of 1895, the dauntlessly, impeccably stylish poet, playwright and bon vivant Oscar Wilde was at the peak of his witty existence. The Importance of Being Ernest was a hit in the West End, making him the popular across London. But he was serving two years in prison for gross indecency by summer.
The Redline incarnation of the production sheds light in a nuanceful manner on both the romantic individualist, master of paradox and victim Wilde that emerges from Iain Sinclair’s melancholic and at times somber incarnation of Judas Kiss, is a multifaceted character, i.e. a character that carries the internal battle and tries to balance moral integrity and intelligence with a tendency for self-annihilation.
Josh Quong Tart manages to portray Wilde’s inner upheavals and giving depth to great emotions that could easily run danger of border lining worn out clichés.
Quong Tart masters the technically difficult task of playing Wilde, a character where the slightest slip would result in breaking character.
It comes with the territory and lies in the childish hysteric character of his counterpart, Bosie, performed by Hayden Maher, that its portrayal is painted with a broader brush with at times simplistic strokes. Strokes that make it difficult to decipher what the attraction was for Wilde in the first place.
Enormously present and anchoring the play is Simon London in his intentionally understated yet nuanced role of Wilde’s confidante Robbie.
The main protagonists are flanked by Robert Alexander, Luke Fewster, Hannah Raven and David Soncin.
Time has been kind to Judas Kiss and Redline Production’s take on it only amplifies the rich, relevant and resonant piece it is.
Photos by KAVV