[lit-ideas] Green Carnation

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 12:59:33 EDT

"In order to distinguish us from  ordinary blokes,
               we all wear a green carnation",
                            Sir Noel Coward
Incidentally, Read is also a Rupert Brooke fan, founder of the first-ever  
Rupert Brooke Society.

LONDON - Like the career of its subject,  London's latest   musical began 
in a blaze of publicity, set  tongues wagging and ended, prematurely , in 
Oscar  Wilde: The Musical  opened last Tuesday  at the 500-seat Shaw  
Theatre. It closed the next day after receivig excoriating reviews and  
selling just five tickets for its second performance.
Written, produced and directed by Mike Read, a radio DJ  whose fame  
peaked in the 1980s, Oscar Wilde set out , according to its publicity  
material, to chart Wilde's " tragic descent from idolization to isolation" -  
with a script written entirely in rhyming couplets.
The  Daily Telegraph declared the show " a pitiful vanity project" . The  
Evening Standard  judged it  " a musical of exquisite  awfulness."
The author of plays, poems, essays  and  novels, Wilde was the epigram 
-spouting darling of 1890s     London. But his career ended in disgrace in 
1895 , when he was sentenced to  two years in prison for " gross indecency" 
following a failed libel suit  against the Marquis of Queensberry, father of 
Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred  Douglas.
Wilde died of cerebral meningitis in a Paris  hotel  room  in November   
1900 at the age  of  46.
Read,    who has written  musicals  based   on Dicken's Great Expectations, 
Shakespeare's A midsummer  Night's  dream and the life of crooner Cliff 
Richard, mounted the show  to mark the 150th   anniversary of Wilde?s birth. 
Last week he  told  The Independent  newspaper . " I would like to think it  
might still be performed in   100 years' time".
It  seems unlikely . Newspapers reported that only five tickets had been 
sold  for Wednesday's performance when Read decided to pull the plug.
" I am  naturally devastated at the turn of events. We had a fantastic West 
End cast  and the reaction of the audience at the press night was terrific", 
Read  said  in a statement
The reaction of critics was harsh. The Daily  Telegraph's Dominic Cavendish 
judged it " a pitiful vanity project " that  passes golden genius though the 
filter of presumptuous mediocrity and  produces over two hours of leaden 
dross ."
In The Guardian, which gave  the show zero stars out of five, Elizabeth 
Mahoney lambastedRead's "  forgetable songs that are lamely camp...or limply 
sentimental." The Times'  Benedict Nightingale  said Wilde would be " chewing 
his green carnation  in dismay " if forced to watch the  production.

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