Tag: Oscar Wilde

Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

“A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”

By Margaret Wieringa

How can a farce from the late 1800s be relevant over two hundred years later? Perhaps because politics and society seem to be as farcical as ever, with world leaders shunning education and humanity and instead using confounding language to say very little. Or perhaps it’s just that we need a break from it all and to really laugh.

If it’s a laugh you need, this is certainly the show to go to. This interpretation of the Importance of Being Earnest by Ridiculusmus has the magnificent talents of Jon Hayes and David Woods playing all of the characters. Being the work of Oscar Wilde, comedy is in almost every line, but Hayes and Woods manage to elicit humour even from the silences. Each costume change brings titters of laughter from the audience, as much from the action itself as the anticipation of what is coming next. The timing is perfect, starting with long pauses filled with slight movements as we wait for a character to reappear, and then moving to fast-paced, frenetic changes as the play reaches its climax.

Even the set was humorous, with every surface (including the leaves of an indoor plant) covered with busy wallpaper and Persian rugs. While the magnificent costumes were practically characters of themselves, the set was used delightfully for the performers to do some of the more complex character changes.

The show plays with the concept of theatre itself, with the actors using remote controls and the like for sound and lighting cues (supported by lighting designer Stephen Hawker and  sound realiser Tom Backhaus). They play with conventions, use modern music to add humour to scenes, and enjoy letting the audience in on the joke when things start to go off the rails.

Perhaps the greatest joy of the show is that the audience feels as though they have joined the actors on a magnificent journey and reach the end victorious and fulfilled.

Venue: Malthouse Theatre

Dates: 14 Feb – 8 March

Time: Varies between 5pm and 7:30pm starts

Prices: $49-$89

Bookings: https://tickets.malthousetheatre.com.au/production/5676 or call the box office on 9685 5111

Photography by Pia Johnson

Midsumma Festival 2017: THE HAPPY PRINCE

Wilde’s famous fairytale beautifully reinvented

By Myron My

Oscar Wilde‘s short story, The Happy Prince, tells the tale of a golden statue of a prince that overlooks a city. Along with a flying swallow that he encounters, the Happy Prince sacrifices itself in vain in order to help the people who are suffering from poverty. As part of Midsumma Festival, queer theatre company Little Ones Theatre have taken Wilde’s tale and adapted it through a queer lens. The contemporary homo-erotic story now explores the desperation and futility that two women experience in order to remain with the one they love.

The Happy Prince.jpg

Dressed in a gold-sequinned dress with gold nail-polish and a smear of gold face-paint, Janine Watson wondrously captures the innocence (and ignorance) of the Happy Prince. As the sacrifices become bigger, her determination becomes more evident in bringing happiness and good to the people, regardless of how fleeting or thankful the act might be.

Catherine Davies brings a poignant level of cynicism to the Swallow but also a passion and yearning for a connection. With her hair quiffed up, wearing rollerskates and chewing gum, she is reminiscent of a defiant and impatient youth constantly on the go. The passion between the two performers is palpable from the very first moment they share the stage together and neither Watson or Davies let go of that for the entire show.

This short story doesn’t offer much in terms of length and plot development, whereupon director Stephen Nicolazzo has created erotically charged and deeply tender moments of no dialogue between the Happy Prince and the swallow, exploring their emotional state of mind on a deeper level. There is a sense of time standing still during the show and we are given the opportunity to take in everything that is being said and everything that is being performed without being rushed.

Katie Sfetkidis‘ intelligent combination of cold and warm lighting design throughout the show highlights the moments of passion and love and the ultimate demise of said love as does the sleek clean set design by Eugyeene Teh. The grey material that runs along the wall and floor of the stage allows the gold and sparkle of the Happy Prince’s costume to constantly attract our attention and admiration.

The Happy Prince is the poetically tragic tale of a love that cannot be. Through its queer retelling, Little Ones Theatre have expertly crafted a powerfully affecting and layered story of deep affection and sacrifice that will linger in your mind long after the final scene.

Venue: La Mama Theatre, 205 Faraday St, Carlton
Season: until 29 January | Wed 6.30pm, Thu – Sat 7.30pm, Sun 4pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

Image by Pia Johnson

REVIEW: Fly on the Wall Theatre Presents TELENY

Taking it slow…

By Margaret Wieringa

When a young and sexually inexperienced man in 1920s Paris meets a talented pianist, the world and everything he believes in is turned upside-down. Believed to have been written by Oscar Wilde and his circle, Teleny pulls no punches when it comes to graphic and shocking sexual stories.

A grand piano dominates the stage, set among the stunning chandeliers and chaise longues. It is used innovatively throughout the performance, but none more so than in the beautifully choreographed sex scene between the two lovers. Actors Tom Byers and Dushan Phillips use every muscle in their bodies to create stunning visual images of love and lust, captured in the light and shadow of excellent lighting design.


A grand piano dominates the stage, set among the stunning chandeliers and chaise longues. It is used innovatively throughout the performance, but none more so than in the beautifully choreographed sex scene between the two lovers. Actors Tom Byers and Dushan Phillips use every muscle in their bodies to create stunning visual images of love and lust, captured in the light and shadow of excellent lighting design.

The challenge to these two actors was not just the physical lovemaking scenes, but conveying the aloof and sarcastic nature of the pretty young things of Wilde’s world. At times, the emotion of the scene was lost in the words and tone, but once the characters lose themselves to love, the words came more naturally.

The second half of the performance opens with the salon scene – an orgy of delights, with naked men performing poetry (well, bawdy limericks), storytelling and a hilarious commedia dell ‘arte number, and ends in a violent act that director Robert Chuter has somehow managed to keep tasteful.

Unfortunately, for me, all of the good things about the play were severely outweighed by the self-indulgent length. When, after two-and-a-half hours the lights came on and we were informed that there would be a twenty-minute interval, there were various sounds of surprise from the audience. There were a considerable number of people who did not return after the interval, and I suspect it was the length more than the content. The performance would have benefitted from some severe editing to ensure that the story that was being told was kept, but that it didn’t drag on and on. Throughout the show, various non-naturalistic techniques were used to tell a lot in a very snappy manner, and perhaps more of this could have been incorporated.

Venue: Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Dates: May 29 – June 15, Wednesday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 6:30pm
Price: $37.50 Full, $34.50 Concession (+ Transaction Fee)
Tickets: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or call (03) 8290 7000



Things are about to get Wilde…

By Myron My

Flashing lights, thumping music, crazy costumes and a catwalk. You might be thinking you are at a fashion show but instead it is a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, simply titled Dorian.


Director Adam Grima has created a modernized queer reading of the text and, through this queer culture lens, looks at its obsession with remaining youthful, narcissism and vanity.

The show takes place on the catwalk, with the cast strutting and performing along it to give the impression we are constantly on display to others and being judged by our choices. However, this set is painted completely white and left bare, juxtaposing this notion with being truthful and baring all.

Dorian is low on dialogue and high on visual stimulation. The costume design by Emma Howchin is brilliant with her play on sexuality and masculinity strongly evident. There are also some confronting scenes of simulated sex and murder as we see Dorian slide into debauchery and vice. Being in such close proximity to the performers, there is a level of intimacy you are unable to escape and it’s another reason why the end reveal of the ‘painting’ of Dorian is so gripping and horrific to watch.

With there being such little dialogue, when it does happen it needs to have an impact and whist the words are strong I don’t feel the delivery of the lines by the cast is. Francisco Lopez is able to bring some life into his dialogue but more work was needed from the other two leads, Johnathon Duffy and Tommy Doyle.

Dorian is not the Dorian Gray we have come to know, so ensure you leave any preconceptions at the door. This is WAQ Productions’ debut at Melbourne Fringe Festival and despite being a little rough around the edges, this play is a unique and interesting interpretation of a well-known text.

Venue: Lincoln Art Centre, Basement 24, Lincoln St, Brunswick East

Season: Until 05 October | Tues- Sat 8:00pm

Tickets: $24 Full | $18 Conc

Bookings: http://www.melbournefringe.com.au or 9660 9666