Promethean Theatre Ensemble’s production of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde serves as both an entertaining and moving night of theatre. While the structure of the show itself is functionally chaotic, the creative team behind this production maneuvers through it with ease and gives the audience a clear window into what happened to one of history’s most lauded writers.
Documentary Theatre With Comedy
The plot centers around the three trials Oscar Wilde faced in the late 19th Century regarding what was termed, at the time, “gross indecency” but is now known as homosexuality. As the narrators inform the audience, all of the dialogue is constructed of actual transcripts of the trials, as well as newspaper articles from that time, books written about the trials and letters written between Wilde and other people involved. Playwright Moises Kaufman seems to want the audience to know exactly what happened.
If an audience member is not already a fan of the writings of Oscar Wilde, the barrage of witticisms from the master of phrasing will most likely turn them on to at least checking him out. The show definitely has a literary feel and will appeal to literature scholars, but never stops being entertaining at the surface either.
The Unimportance of Being A Gender
The actors portraying Oscar Wilde himself and the majority of the men to which Wilde was associated are mostly female. As the director points out, the genders of the characters themselves have not been changed; the narrators in the play portraying those characters happen to be female. The universality this inherently offers the play is certainly worth noting. The fact that the cast is not ALL female or ALL male lends to this thesis of being “gender blind.”
Acting and Literature Interwoven
Jamie Bragg’s performance as Oscar Wilde brings forth a more human side of Oscar Wilde. Those familiar with him will generally know the famous quotes, the plays, the famous last words about hating a specific type of wallpaper. Bragg, while not losing that public and cartoonish charm, flushes him out and shows the audience the man as he most likely appeared to those closest to him.
5 out of 5 Stars
Top Pick For: Literature and History Buffs
Not recommended for: A tired mind
Runs December 9, 2016 through December 18, 2016
Sunday, Dec. 11 at 3:00pm
Monday Dec. 12 at 7:00pm
Thursday, Dec. 15 at 7:30PM
Friday Dec. 16 at 7:30pm
Saturday Dec. 17 at 7:30PM
Sunday Dec. 18 at 3:00PM
City Lit Theater
1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago
Photos: Tom McGrath TCMcG Photography