Wednesday, October 20

Brighton Festival – For Alfonso: A Wilde Evening at the Royal

- May 23, 2011

Neil Bartlett delivers yet again a striking work in which Bette Bourne the radical drag performer of Bloolips fame plays Wilde, Maggie Steed his wife and Guy Henry the investigator who uncovered that Wilde had spent a night in a Brighton Hotel with one Alfonso Conway. Conway played by Edmund Wiseman was suitably knowing and naive as he sat and listened to Wilde read him a story about a rocket, a telling parable. Bourne is of course superb in the role, with the ability to deliver the lines like sugared poison at one moment and softly and sadly romantic at others. Maggie Steed pulls out all the stops reading the smaller characters but it is her telling of Wilde’s wife that is most moving, and it has to be said that I wanted perhaps more of that story. Bartlett’s script is concise, witty and lyrical. He has the knack of using a few words to convey a wealth of both story and emotion. The spartan staging worked too. I can’t help feeling that we were party to the birth of something that will become much bigger. I certainly left very happy but also wanting more.

Theatre Royal, Brighton, 21 May

Rating: ★★★★☆
Andrew Kay

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