A memorable visit to the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin on Thursday evening last (18th October 2012) to see the, Robert Fox, Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Bath Productions presentation of The Hampstead Theatre Production of “The Judas Kiss” written by David Hare and directed by Neil Armfield.The set for the production is designed by scenographer Dale Ferguson, costumes designed by Sue Blane, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design is by Paul Groothuis.
Act I is set in a London hotel room as Oscar arrives from the court and forgoing the option to run, awaits the arrival of the police to arrest him. The setting is large and dark with a sense of Victorian opulence. This is achieved by setting the corner-set diagonally to the auditorium with a jogged run of high black flats on stage right and a great, broad swag of black crushed velvet draped as a canopy over a large, splendid brass bed with black enamelled posts. The velvet drape forms the wall behind the bed and seams to pour across the floor filling all of the acting space down to the apron of the stage. The jogged panels of the black wall accommodate a large wall clock with a wall mounted oil lamp either side, and upstage panel has a narrow vertical window ope, allowing sun light in and the occupants of the room a view onto the street below. There is long, dark, leather upholstered, button back couch under the wall clock and two, black velvet draped occasional tables, set against the wall, one under each of the oil lamps. Centre stage is occupied by a large carved wooden framed chair with leather upholstered seat and studded back panel with a wine table beside it. There is a square top restaurant table set to stage left with a serving trolley and a single chair. The entrances and exits are made down stage left and right between the ends of the set and the tormentor flats.
Act II is set some years later in Naples, Wilde is down in mood and financially broke, and while Bose is having a good time he is preparing his departure strategy and abandonment of Oscar.
The Act II setting is again large, and while following the same setting lines as in Act I, in this act it is bright and has a sense of Mediterranean lightness. This is achieved by presenting the corner-set diagonally to the auditorium with the jogged run of high black flats on stage right rearranged to give an upstage opening with the window flat now set stage left of the opening. A bright shaft of Mediterranean sunlight comes through the window ope, adding to the sense of the location and the time of day.
Whereas in Act I a great, broad swag of black crushed velvet draped as a canopy over a large, brass bed; In Act II there is a large white gauze draped high over a basic iron bed. It forms the wall behind the bed and seams to pour down onto the floor.
The set was supportive of the play, giving an appropriately styled setting for the performers without distracting from the performance but with enough visual cues to stimulate the imagination of the audience into visualising the rest.
My pencil illustrations show my interpretation of the stage plan for Acts I and II, and an impression of the elevated view.
Sue Blane’s costumes gave credibility to the characters, creating a sense of the fashion and style of the period and by way of contrast the service liveries of the hotel staff.
Lighting designer Rick Fisher’s light changes met the mood of the play’s moments and the strategy of having a moving beam of light travel over the furniture pieces to indicate the passage of time was very effective.
Director: Neil Armfield: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Armfield
Set Design: Dale Ferguson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dale_Ferguson_(designer)
Costume Design: Sue Blane http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Blane
Lighting Design: Rick Fisher: http://www.ald.org.uk/RickFisher/bio.php
Wig Mistress: Helen Keelan: