The Judas Kiss (play)

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The Judas Kiss
TheJudasKiss play cover.jpg
Cover of the published play (1998)
Written by David Hare
Date premiered12 March 1998 (1998-03-12) [1]
Place premiered Playhouse Theatre
Subject Oscar Wilde's decline at the hands of his lover Bosie
GenreBiographical drama
Setting London

The Judas Kiss is a 1998 play by David Hare about Oscar Wilde's scandal and disgrace at the hands of his young lover Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas).



Act 1: London, 1895

Oscar Wilde's spoiled and impetuous young lover Bosie has succeeded in instigating Wilde to sue Bosie's father in court for insulting him as a "sodomite". The loss of the suit opens the way for Wilde being criminally indicted for gross indecency. Wilde has tacit government permission to flee the country to avoid arrest, trial, and imprisonment, but the childish Bosie insists that he stay and defend their honour.

Act 2: Italy, 1897

Wilde is doing the one thing his friends wanted him to avoid, namely reuniting with the unbelievably selfish Bosie after his difficult two-year incarceration. Wilde, a broken man, is holed up in exile from the UK in a rat-infested hotel in Naples. [2]


Historical figures

Fictitious characters


Original 1998 cast

2012 revival cast

London and Broadway productions

Original 1998 production

The play was originally produced by the Almeida Theatre Company and premiered in London's Playhouse Theatre in the West End, where it ran from 12 March to 18 April 1998. [5] It then transferred to Broadway in New York at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it ran from 23 April through 1 August 1998. [6] The play was rushed into production in London in order to open on Broadway in time for the Tonys. [7] [8] The run starred Liam Neeson as Wilde and Tom Hollander as Bosie, and was directed by Richard Eyre. [8]

2012 revival

The Judas Kiss was revived at London's Hampstead Theatre beginning 6 September 2012, starring Rupert Everett as Wilde and Freddie Fox as Bosie, and directed by Neil Armfield. The play ran at the Hampstead through 13 October 2012, [9] toured the UK and Dublin, [10] [11] [12] and then transferred to the West End at the Duke of York's Theatre on 9 January 2013 in a limited run through 6 April 2013. [13] [14] [15]

Everett won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Actor in a Play, [16] and was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor. [17] In 2016 the production, still starring Everett and with Charlie Rowe as Bosie, ran in North America for seven weeks in Toronto [18] and five weeks at BAM in New York City. [19]

Australian productions

The play had its Australian premiere in 1999 at Sydney's Belvoir St Theatre. It was directed by Neil Armfield, who later directed the 2012 London revival, and featured Bille Brown in the role of Oscar Wilde. [20] In 2014, a new production directed by Jason Cavanagh and produced by the Mockingbird Theatre Company was staged at Theatreworks in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, featuring Chris Baldock as Wilde and Nigel Langley as Bosie. [21] [20]


The initial 1998 run of The Judas Kiss proved popular with audiences but less so with critics. [22] The 2012 London revival however was both critically and popularly acclaimed. Michael Billington in The Guardian observed of the revival:

When David Hare's play was first seen in 1998, it suffered from the miscasting of the central roles of Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie). Now, in Neil Armfield's fine revival, it looks a much richer play .... The Wilde that emerges is a multifaceted character: one who can either be admired for his uncompromising moral integrity, or pitied for his wilful capacity for self-destruction. This is the most convincing dramatic portrait of Wilde that I have come across – one that captures him as both romantic individualist and tragic victim. [23]

Other critics concurred with Billington's sentiment; [24] Fiona Mountford in the Evening Standard echoed that "Time has been kinder to The Judas Kiss (1998) than some initial judgments: on second viewing it's revealed as a rich, resonant piece of writing, which at last boasts the ideal cast." [25]


  1. The dialogue suggests that Moffatt has a fancy for a male member of his staff, and this is the way that most actors portraying the character approach it.

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  1. Paddock, Terry. "Liam Neeson Makes West End Debut in Hare's Kiss, 12 March". Playbill . 11 December 1997.
  2. Shewey, Don. "Who Owns Oscar Wilde?". The Advocate . 28 April 1998.
  3. Brantley, Ben. "The Judas Kiss: Oscar Wilde, Out and Down in London and Naples". New York Times . 30 April 1998.
  4. Corcoran, Kieran. "Full cast for The Judas Kiss with Rupert Everett announced". . 4 July 2012.
  5. Paller, Rebecca and David Lefkowitz. "B'way Kisses Neeson's Judas Goodbye, Aug. 2". Playbill . 2 August 1998.
  6. The Judas Kiss at the Internet Broadway Database.
  7. Sheward, David. "Spring Promises a Blossoming Second Half to Broadway Season". Backstage . 21 February 2001.
  8. 1 2 Paller, Rebecca and David Lefkowitz. "Liam Neeson Judas Kiss Opens on B'way Apr. 29". Playbill . 29 April 1998.
  9. The Judas Kiss. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  10. Maxwell, Barbara. "The Judas Kiss (Bath – tour)". . 22 October 2012.
  11. The Judas Kiss To Tour The UK: Dates For Your Diary. 13 September 2012.
  12. The Judas Kiss: 15 October 2012 - 20 October 2012.
  13. Gilbert, Ryan. "Rupert Everett to Star as Oscar Wilde in The Judas Kiss at the West End's Duke of York Theatre". 12 October 2012.
  14. The Judas Kiss. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  15. The Judas Kiss by David Hare. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  16. 2013 Results.
  17. Szalai, Georg. "Helen Mirren, Rupert Everett, James McAvoy Among Olivier Awards Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter . 26 March 2013.
  18. The Judas Kiss in Toronto. March 22, 2016 – May 1, 2016.
  19. The Judas Kiss (theatre program). Brooklyn Academy of Music. 11 May – 12 June 2016.
  20. 1 2 Peard, Anne-Marie. "Mockingbird: The Judas Kiss". Aussie Theatre. 18 March 2014.
  21. The Judas Kiss. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  22. Dalglish, Darren. "The Judas Kiss". London Theatre Guide (archive). 23 March 1998.
  23. Billington, Michael. "The Judas Kiss – review". The Guardian . 12 September 2012.
  24. The Judas Kiss – Reviews. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  25. "The Judas Kiss, Hampstead – review". Evening Standard . 13 September 2012.