Here, writer-director Terra Taylor Knudson sets out to dramatize this fascinating tale. One can't quarrel with her decisions to simplify it—to make it viable on stage—and to sometimes depart from the facts; plays are not history. But in the course of adapting the story, she has shorn it of its larger implications. Her play becomes merely a series of scenes—some of them quite capably written—that are closer to soap opera than morality play. She gives us the familiar highlights of the three infamous trials, sketches in the relationship between Wilde and Bosie, and suggests the tensions between Wilde and his long-suffering wife, Constance (Taylor Knudson). But nowhere does she suggest Wilde's intellectual stature, the depths of his pain, or the complexity of his relationships.
The production is competent and the actors capably perform the roles written for them. But there are no revelations here. Thorn suggests Wilde's outrageousness and urbanity, despite an overly romantic wig, and Hartman captures Bosie's arrogant, obnoxious charm. Taylor Knudson provides a solid but conventional portrait of the wronged wife.
Presented by Olio Theatre Works Inc. at the Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A. Aug. 15–Sept. 13. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.