It’s indefatigably Wilde. You don’t even need the show’s title to know it’s Wilde. Gerard Logan simply is Wilde, from the non-stop quips and allusions to the tender look at his own condemned urges.
Gerard Logan’s suave, furious and stimulating presence lifts the words to a lofty place and gives them the well-enunciated love they need
Wilde Without the Boy is a monologue, dramatised from the author’s own De Profundis, a 50,000-word letter composed to his former lover, Posie - that is, Lord Alfred Douglas; an awful man by all accounts, but it’s clear Wilde loved him. The true extent to their relationship is unclear. But that’s the difficulty inherent to “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name”. It’s not an easy thing to grasp, for Wilde and for us, and that’s why Wilde Without the Boy is so strong. It’s not simply restating that reason is the slave of our passions. It’s an analysis of why love often needs both competing halves, and what happens when one’s intellectual notion of a relationship clashes with reality.
Wilde’s in Reading Gaol. He’s serving a sentence for acts of homosexuality. There’s bits of his trial in the monologue, and we learn it wasn’t the plain case of getting caught in the act. There’s history behind his arrest, and it’s all weaved in the fabric of the relations with Alfred Douglas. There’s also inserts of The Ballad of Reading Gaol, done more in the righteously mad manner of Spoken Word than delivered verse. These can get gooey, but at least provide contrast to the urbane bulk of the the show.
Fortunately, Wilde’s inimitable manner is kept in the text. Gareth Armstrong, the piece’s director and dramaturg, made a neat choice in appropriating De Profundis, and Gerard Logan’s suave, furious and stimulating presence lifts the words to a lofty place and gives them the well-enunciated love they need. But there’s also hate. The letter toes the line between affection and disgust, and Logan communicates this well. Sometimes, though, even he is unable to carry the more monotonous passages that fail to add new thoughts to the plight, but he’s as professional a performer as you could want at the Fringe.
It’ll envelope you, titillate you and more than once you’ll have to check you understand the mile-a-minute witticisms. It’s elevated, and it truly is Wilde.