The Judas Kiss - Theatre Review

By: Saema Nasir

From the first provocative scene to the final, heartbreaking act, The Judas Kiss will have you glued to your seat and riveted by the action unfolding before you.

A retelling of Oscar Wilde’s last years, the play deals with the themes of loyalty, love, betrayal, and friendship as it explores his run from the authorities who wanted to punish him for his sexuality. Depicting Oscar Wilde’s relationship with his long-time advisor and former lover Robert Ross and his current lover Lord Alfred Douglas, we see the external factors that Wilde had to contend with, while simultaneously struggling with his internal impulses on whether to escape prosecution by fleeing England or staying to face certain imprisonment. 

The star attraction is Rupert Everett who plays Oscar Wilde with gusto. Relishing in every quip, with witty repartee rolling off his tongue, Everett creates a Wilde who is infuriating as well as sympathetic. Portraying Wilde’s downfall from wealthy and fêted raconteur and socialite to an impoverished expatriate, Everett showcases Wilde’s weaknesses with subtlety and his legendary spirit and wit vividly.

Under Neil Armfield’s skilled direction, each actor shines, adeptly showing how their characters impacted Wilde and his decisions as they enter and exist in his life.

Charlie Rowe as Lord Alfred Douglas is arrogant and easy to dislike. In spite of all his shortcomings, Wilde truly loved him. 

Alister Cameron as a musty butler brings a lively touch to the scenes he is in while Cal MacAninch shines as a loyal and spurned former-lover of Wilde. He brings a raw intensity to the character whose heartbreak is worn on his sleeve.

The Judas Kiss asks very important questions around the importance of loyalty, the sting of deceit and the value of love. More poignantly it depicts the cruelty of a society so capable and willing to ruin a brilliant man simply for who he was.

See The Judas Kiss for its superb acting, engaging dialogue and entrancing action, as well as for the important lesson it teaches on the perils of letting the law into the bedroom.

The Judas Kiss is playing until May 1, 2016 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. Tickets can be purchased online at

Photos: Cylla von Tiedmann

Saema Nasir is a communications professional who blogs, writes, paints & explores her beautiful city of Toronto. She has a Masters in Public Relations and also blogs at Follow her on Twitter @saemanasir