OSCAR / Vertebra Theatre

Two young queer girls meet in a nightclub and bond over a copy of Oscar Wilde's De Profundis. When tragedy interrupts their burgeoning romance, only Oscar can provide comfort.

This new puppet and dance-based piece by Vertebra Theatre (makers of the acclaimed Dark Matter) explores “queer identities and first love” through “visual imageries, garbage film, devised text and dance.”

A black box space is plunged into a multi-sensory bombardment of music and movement. Two women meet and intertwine; their bodies - erotic? Ambiguous? A book -- a third person in the room -- is introduced, becoming an ever-expanding Pandora's Box opening new worlds of insight as Lilly, a survivor (of a nightclub shooting per the programme, though this was unclear in performance) struggles with both her grief and her growing queer identity. The book finally comes to represent the final thing left in Pandora's Box: hope.

"I turned good things to evil, and evil things to good. 

The sparingly used spoken word elements of the play explores the transformative power of art and literature; the potency of all-consuming love; and themes of memory and the senses: an attempt to delineate and deconstruct a person in order to attempt a psychic Frankenstein-reconstruction of the lost.

Lilly is at various stages liberated from and empowered by her sparse and repetitive dialogue, with much happening in the spaces created by the clash of dance, imagery, speech and puppetry.

This piece provides a thought-provoking and emotional physicalisation of love, lust, grief, guilt, madness, and joy. And this is fundamentally not a play about queer love (the themes of queer identity are relatively underplayed) or even love, but a play about joy. The lost girl dances with a (hallucination? ghost?) image of Oscar Wilde, portrayed by a puppet whose neutral expression somehow managed to be rather expressive. He sparks her to engage in a joyous tap dance, leading her to rediscover the pleasure within herself. (NJW)

Oscar ran for two performances, 22nd-23rd August, at the Etcetera Theatre.

Vertebra Theatre http://www.vertebrarts.com/

 Reading Prison is staging a full reading of De Profundis between 4th September 30th October. https://www.artangel.org.uk/project/inside/

Oscar Wilde's Influence on Gay Identity http://closetprofessor.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/oscar-wilde-influence-on-gay-identity.html

The Gay Man's Burden: Wilde, Dandyism, and the Labors of Gay Selfhood http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=uhf_2008