This is a review of Miosés Kaufmann
's play Gross Indecency, performed at Simon Fraser University
, British Columbia
, in the Winter of 2000, which I went to see with my class. It follows the life and times of Oscar Wilde
--- Gross Indecency ---
It is, of course, invaluable to witness live theatre, and certainly to offer support to our peers, in whatever way we can. And for the price, this show was more than worth it. I encourage this sort of outing for students in future years.
Gross Indecency is very historical. The opinion of my peers is essential in writing this piece, as it has been prevalent in any discussion on the play since. This play is considered long, and slow, and uninteresting. I can see that those with neither mind nor passion for detail would easily consider it such. If the play was made more succinct, or fast-paced, then the sense of purgatory, of waiting, of a trial would be lost. Also, this was performed in a fairly upbeat manner, at least by my own standards. Perhaps it is that my peers belong, and ascribe quite strongly, to the paradigm of the television generation.
At first, I did find it a bit kitschy that the four persons in the "judges’ box" were sitting facing the audience, yet it gave the feel of bizarre murder mysteries. When I found that there was a soundman, seated at the table, with props at ankle or at wrist, this confirmed my opinions. The use of the sounds by an actor astage gave a very dated feel to the performance. The use of more conventional actors was advantageous to the show in that it broke up the monotony of the fact-finding, and provided example of the letters and texts brought up in the trial.
The top of the second act was the highlight for me. Kyle, seated right by the stage, chose to sit at the back with the rest of the class, and I could take his place. This gave me – O, myopic me – the chance to get more intimately involved with the piece. Anyway, the top of the second act. A professor, a total academic, looking part of the 1970s, comes out and does an analysis of the effect of Oscar Wilde has had on society, and on contemporary views of Wilde, and the misconceptions that are widely held on Wilde, and the issues to be discussed later in the act, now voiced by Wilde.
This second act is much more dynamic than the first, and consequently (perhaps bizarrely) interested me less. We were put through the 2nd and 3rd trials, and through the correspondence of Wilde and his lover, and Wilde’s eventual defeat, imprisonment, and isolation. The final scene erupts in a violent maëlstrom, and the set becomes cluttered with tables, and chairs. The floor is illuminated from within, and the stagecraft students get to take advantage of the flashier lights.
To reaffirm my belief that the genre of this play is historical, and not tragedy, I must look to the author’s intent. I do not believe that Miosés Kaufmann intended to raise this play in comparison to any current events, nor to debunk myths about the legendary Wilde, nor still to relate to the audience the pains of loving another in a society that does not stand for such sod. It seems that the author has taken facts, and put them together in a mildly entertaining format, and given it the artistic edge necessary for performance art. It is open to those who care for such things. In this case, the academics, the historians, and the elite literati of the world. Of course, with the free tickets, and with the apt venue of our 2nd most reputed University, the house was packed.
Oh yes, a couple of the girls said that the fellow who played Wilde was a hottie, but I do not concur.