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Published March 20, 2014

Yes Mockingbird, well done! This is the calibre of show I have come to know and love from this exciting young company. The Judas Kiss, Mockingbird’s second instalment for their 2014 season tells the story of the world famous Oscar Wilde.

It is 1895 and Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest is playing in the West End after a triumphant premiere, but already the wheels are in motion which will lead to his imprisonment, downfall and vilification. Forced to make a choice between his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie), and his freedom, the ever-romantic Wilde embarks on a course towards self-destruction.

– Mockingbird Theatre Website

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Walking into the theatre at St Kilda’s Theatre Works is so exciting when the audience is greeted by a well put together and eye catching set. The play itself begins on a rather eye catching note, full frontal nudity of both the male and female form. I have always doubted the need for nudity in many shows however this was truly tasteful and not shocking and seemed to fit the mood of the play itself.

The main role of Mr Wilde was played by the masterful Chris Baldock, who managed to bring to life the whit and stinging timing for which Wilde and his works are notable for. Baldock’s timing both with the comedic moments and dramatic were stunning and he was truly a pleasure to watch on stage. Another standout was Oliver Coleman who’s presence on stage was so strong, his diction precise and his character so formed, the world could have ended yet he would have kept going. It was truly a fantastic and honest performance for Coleman.

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The rest of the cast were strong and were the glue that helped to hold everything together, there was no weak link in this ensemble. However I feel the performances were let down by one major and obvious thing, the size of the set. The stage space at Theatre Works is quite large. However, the set was cut too short. At one stage six actors were placed into a tight playing space that ended up creating a bit of slop on stage and this was at times a hard thing for me to take my eyes off, that ended up detracting from the hard work and strong characterisation the actors had put into their performances. This issues was overcome by the end of the first act as the set wasn’t ever as constricted in the second act. Did I like David Hares play chronicling the last years of Oscar Wilde? No I didn’t. Did I enjoy watching these fine actors work the language and turn in terrific performances? Yes I did.

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