Moises Kaufman's Off-Broadway docudrama about the trials and tribulations of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde concludes its current Philadelphia staging, May 16. James J. Christy directs the production, which began previews April 9 and officially opened April 14.
Gross Indecency follows the arrest, judgment and sentencing of the most celebrated playwright in Great Britain, drawing on original Wilde transcripts, biographical material and letters.
Wilde's plays include Lady Windemere's Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, A Woman of No Importance and Salome. His start blazed briefly in his time, but his personal life sank his reputation at the turn of the century.
He was sentenced to two years' hard labor in an English prison for "gross indecency with male persons" -- the crime of homosexuality. Upon his release, he moved to France and died of meningitis three years later.
Those who think Wilde was simply arrested and tried for being gay in England might be surprised at the full story, charted in the play: Wilde first sued his lover's father for defamation of character, but the suit backfired, with Wilde becoming the victim of his own pride -- and England's legal system. The Philadelphia Theatre Company's Gross Indecency stars Villanova theater professor Harry Althaus, alongside Frank Anderson, Gary Brownlee, Eli Finkelman, Brian McCarthy, Ian Stuart, Jeff Whitty, Craig Wroe and William Zielinski.
Gross Indecency plays at PTC April 9-May 16. For tickets or information, call (215) 735-0631.
-- By Ken Jones and David Lefkowitz