“The Importance of Being Oscar” While at Hôtel d’Alsace

By Ernest Kearney  —  The Importance of Being Oscar is demonstrative of a particular difficulty in writing plays, scripts or novels dealing with historical personages; the author must always master them.

An example in classical literature where a character was beyond the corralling of the writer (though only a “historical” character in the loosest sense of the terms) is Milton’s, Paradise Lost.

Even though Milton wrote his weighty tome in homage to his Lord, the old Cromwellian was unable to muzzle the character of Lucifer and so he looms larger in the text than the Almighty and his whole hosts of angels.

Playwright Brandie June encounters a similar problem in her piece about Oscar Wilde’s last days, while at Paris’ Hôtel d’Alsace—and the visitors he had—just prior to his death on November 30, 1900.

The piece consists of three segments.

Each has Wilde (Richard Abraham) being called on by a figure from his past: first is his friend and the author of the scandalous My Life and Loves, Frank Harris (Richard Lucas), then his estranged wife Constance (Cyanne McClairian), and lastly his most famous literary creation Dorian Gray (Patrick Censoplano).

The first two suffer structurally because June relies so heavily on dialogue from Wilde’s communications and writings.

Director/Producer Matthew Martin

In the first segment, Lucas struggles valiantly, but is used mainly as the deliverer of exposition which weighs down the opening.

The second segment, a confrontation between Wilde and his wife offers more opportunity for some solid dramatics; of which McClairian takes full advantage, in a strong and much grounded performance, as the most betrayed of wives.

In both scenes however, Wilde is permitted to dominate, due to the employment of his devastating bon mots.

The last segment focuses on Wilde’s encounter, perhaps in his final delirium, with the character of Dorian Gray.  Censoplano is excellent as the supreme egotist to whom Wilde turns for solace in facing down his own doubts when at death’s door, and Abraham, who fills the demanding role of Wilde with aplomb from theSilver Medal (via The TVolution) first, has his best moments here.

Interestingly enough, it is this segment which employs the least of Wilde’s own words that June’s best writing is found.

Matthew Martin directs with skill, and works his actors well, but June’s script is the dilemma of the drama.


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The Importance of Being Oscar

Played during the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018

And Has Been Extended: Sunday July 8,2018 @ 5pm


Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
(SFS Theatre mainstage)
5636 Melrose Ave
Hollywood, CA

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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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