I have to confess, I booked my ticket for David Hare’s The Judas Kiss solely for Freddie Fox related reasons, but he certainly didn’t disappoint (Oh man, did he not disappoint *fans face*).
I’ve never been to the Hampstead Theatre before and I did rather like it. I was at the far end of the fourth row of the stalls and it was a very good view. It’s a nice modern venue and it looks like they have some interesting shows in the pipeline so I may well be back again before the year is out.
I though it was an interesting play. I previously knew very little about Oscar Wilde beyond the fact that he was punished harshly for his homosexuality (and obviously that he was a fabulous writer, but that was somewhat irrelevant to the plot). The play was split between two important moments in his life (Note; From here on, this post contains spoilers, although they’re more on the subject of Wilde’s life than specifics of the play). Act one was set in an English hotel room where Oscar debates his situation and ultimately, despite his friend Robbie’s pleas, he listens to Lord Alfred; Bosie, the boy he loves and chooses to stay and fight his case. Several years later, act two finds Wilde in Naples, living with Bosie after having served his prison sentence. Over the course of a day or so, we see the end to their relationship in a rather miserable sort of way.
Freddie has always reminded me of Draco Malfoy (this gets relevant, trust me!), perhaps inevitably, given that he’s so very pale, blond and really rather posh (I adore the way he speaks!). The fact that I’m currently reading a novel length fic in which, so far, Draco has been far more real and in-keeping with his character as JK wrote him (not very nice and horribly prejudiced, still living in his father’s shadow and weighing his every action by Lucius’s standards) seemed to bring the parallel to an extra level. Not that Bosie was prejudiced, at least not in the way Draco is, but he was an arrogant posh boy who cared far more about himself and his own perceived victories (in this case over his father, but hey, give that father the name Harry and we’re talking). He annoyed the hell out of me throughout the first act and it irritated me even further that I knew Oscar would ultimately listen to him and give in. Robbie, by contrast, spoke many of the words I’d have chosen if I’d been in his position, but the fact he was unable to truly make himself heard, or rather, he was heard but ignored, bugged me almost as much as the rest of the characters did. I liked the serving staff though! And Arthur (played by Ben Hardy) did have a very nice arse – which was on full display at the very start of the play😉. Small as their parts were, I liked the comic relief they provided from the more serious aspects of the first act.
Bosie annoyed me far less in the second act, or at least, I much preferred him in the earlier part. Believe it or not, my reasons were not even (entirely :P) based on the fact that he started off completely naked and spent much of the rest of his opening scenes wearing nothing but a sheet tied around his waist, leaving his chest bare and flashing a dangerous amount of leg. In fact I found him really quite distracting (big surprise there, I find him distracting fully dressed!). Of course the tanned, muscled Adonis, Galileo (played by Tom Colley), who didn’t even bother with a sheet… and then made a brief appearance dripping wet, really didn’t help my concentration either (I’m awful, I know, but lusting after pretty, yet completely unattainable boys is such fun…)!
Unfortunately the sexiness couldn’t last and with the return of clothing came the return of Bosie’s more irritating characteristics. He was an arrogant little twerp in the end and he made me rather mad by the time he finally made his departure. He came across as completely self serving and with no real principles save the ones that most suited his cause at that given moment. His cause, however, was not love or honesty or gay rights or anything so noble. His cause was himself and screw anyone who no longer fit with what he felt to be best for him at that specific time. Can you tell he bugged me?! I think it was his ranting and raving about fighting for gay rights – which is very much at the forefront of my mind what with Adam Lambert and Gavin Creel and all – followed not long after by his pronouncement that he wasn’t really one of them, he wasn’t really like that and so on and so forth that really annoyed me. With that final speech he almost seemed worse than the people who condemned Wilde to jail in the first place. (Having flicked through the programme after the fact, it does seem that Lord Alfred was a world class git through most of his life).
Anyhoo, I’m not really sure what to say of my overall opinions. It was a good play, certainly; well acted and well presented. It was enlightening and on an artistic level I could appreciate its greatness. My only criticism really was that the characters bugged me, but then that was evidently how they were written. They weren’t especially nice people, though that was true of some more than others, and they definitely weren’t heroes, but that made them far more real. Personally, I like the fantasy of perfection, whether that be happily ever after, or the perfect tragedy doesn’t matter overly much, but this was real and wonderful as the play was, I can never quite like it as much as I’d have liked a fantasy.
The cast were fabulous though, doing a truly magnificent job of bringing those irritatingly flawed characters to life. Admittedly, I couldn’t quite take Rupert Everett seriously, although that’s almost entirely my own fault. My constant Freddie/Draco comparison, along with the drawl in his tone and the hair style often summoned up images of Professor Snape, whilst the character (and I suppose the knowledge that he once played him in a film) and also the hair, I suppose, reminded me often of Stephen Fry. Mostly, however, I found myself recalling Rupert’s role in St. Trinians (I only saw it last weekend, having had no idea what to expect and was totally bewildered by it), which really wasn’t in-keeping with the character he was supposed to be playing and I found slightly distracting at first. That said, he did a fabulous job and by the second act I’d completely bought into the character. I think there may still have been the occasional Stephen Fry comparison, but I think that’s understandable in the circumstances. Freddie Fox was also fabulous as Bosie (or to give him his full title, Lord Alfred Douglas), no matter how much he made me grind my teeth! He was full of (self-)righteous indignation and shouted speeches, but there was a soft childishness to him that managed to break through every so often that really showcased his talent as an actor. (And he looked very nice naked as well :P). Finally Cal MacAninch played Robbie Ross, full of a quiet passion. Of all the characters in the play, I felt he was the most emotionally entangled with the whole situation. He really cared, more so than Oscar who seemed to make light of everything, and certainly more so than Bosie. In every one of his speeches and movements, he made his underlying feelings clear and I enjoyed the subtlety of that a good deal.
The stage door was a success, granting a full house of autographs and photos with the three leading cast members. Freddie was wearing his hat again, of course, and my delightfully crap back-up camera left me with a faintly blurred photo, but he still looks pretty and I’ve met him before, so I can deal. Rupert was lovely, which was unexpected though I’m not sure why. I suppose I was expecting movie star divaness, but it didn’t happen. There was one professional autograph hunter who I spent most of the wait for the cast disparaging in my head whilst trying to justify why they annoy me so much. They’re not hurting anyone really and I suppose most of them watch the actors they chase in their TV or film careers so it’s not as though they aren’t supporting the performer’s career in some way. Perhaps my dislike stems from the knowledge that there are enough actors now who refuse to do anything because of people like that, but generally it’s not really a problem for me. I always compliment the actors on their performances, so they know that I was there at least (plus I’ll primarily get a programme signed, which generally suggests attendance at the theatre) and it’s rare that there are enough professionals to prevent me from getting what I want in term of autographs and photos, so why do I get so irritated with them?
Anyhoo, I’m actually free next week, as in, I have NOTHING booked… *gasp*, so I have no idea when I’ll next be back. I’ve got a vague intention to try and see Jumpy and/or Hedda Gabbler, plus the hope of day tickets for (finally) the new Rock Of Ages cast a week on Sunday, but I suppose we’ll have to see. I’ll definitely end up at something though. It’s been two years, give or take, since I went a week without a single show and I don’t mean to start breaking that record now!
Peace, loVe loVe and pretty naked blond boys *sigh*,
PS. I found out today that Oliver Thornton is playing Frank N Furter in next year’s 40th anniversary tour of Rocky Horror. There’s a teaser video on youtube, but I don’t think the news was meant to be announced until next week. After several people located my blog via the search terms ‘Oliver Thornton Rocky Horror’, however, I decided to do a bit of digging, having more than a passing interest in the subject myself (I have one ticket already, but had every intention of purchasing more dependent on casting). It seems that the Priscilla Facebook page leaked the news early and with that in mind, the video does seem to back it up. Of course, I await an official announcement, but it does look as though that may be the case. I’m not actually sure how I feel about it. I could see him as Brad, or even Rocky, but Frank? The idea is certainly growing on me, helped I’m sure by the anticipation of watching him in knickers and suspenders (the video also added to the excitement – lots of shots of toned thighs in fishnet stockings ;)), but initially I must confess I was a little doubtful. I know he can do drag, he was fabulous as Felicia, but he just seems a bit young and pretty to play Frank. He also seems a bit to sweet, in a weird way, even though my second favourite memory of him (the first being that pink sequinned thong *swoon*) was his opening number in Priscilla, complete with leather and whips… I do wish I’d managed to justify seeing him play that role one last time *sigh*. Anyhoo, still can’t wait to find out who the rest of the cast are, but honestly, no matter what my initial reaction was, I can’t wait to see Ollie back on stage.
PPS. Interestingly, or perhaps not very interestingly, but I’m going to say it anyway, the Draco Malfoy in my head when I read fanfic changes depending on what’s going on in my life at any given time. Very occasionally he looks something like Tom Felton, usually after I’ve watched one of the films, and often he’s simply a random blond boy/man that I’ve conjured up with my own imagination. For a long time that image had more than a passing resemblance to Tommy Joe Ratliff and, more recently, during and immediately following my Rock Of Ages marathon, the Draco in my head had more was essentially Dylan Turner with blond hair. Tonight, however, Draco Malfoy is Freddie Fox. Between the character he played in the Judas Kiss and the version of Malfoy in the fic I’m reading, I really can’t see how he could be anyone else!