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Award it an Oscar... but should we really be Wilde about play?

PUBLISHED: 15:17 21 September 2011 | UPDATED: 15:54 21 September 2011

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Archant

»A debate has started over whether a new play at an Islington theatre is the final work of Oscar Wilde.

The showing of Constance at the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street has been described as the world premiere of the final script by the Irish writer.

But his grandson Merlin Holland claims Wilde only ever provided the synopsis and not a full version.

Essence

Adam Spreadbury-Maher, artistic director of theatre company Good Night Out, said: “For Merlin Holland to say it is ‘complete tosh’ that this is from Oscar Wilde is a very black and white viewpoint and you can’t take that position when there is not enough evidence. It has all the essence of an Oscar Wilde play.”

The production company claims Wilde gave a more detailed working draft to an American actress Cora Brown Potter before his death in 1900.

She passed it on to Guillot de Saix who produced a French manuscript.

The English translation was reportedly destroyed during the Second World War – but years later Wilde enthusiast Charles Osborne translated the French version which had been published in a literary magazine in 1954.

The production, based on the translation from Osborne, had its world premiere last week.

Mr Spreadbury-Maher said: “Vyvyan Holland said in 1954 ‘there’s a significant amount of dialogue in this play which bears the authentic mark of my father’s hand’ and that has not been disputed.

“This is a fantastic discovery and very exciting for anyone interested in the work of Oscar Wilde.”

It was reportedly written following his release from prison in 1897 after being jailed for homosexuality.

“This is from a broken man and gone is the flowery language from before, to be replaced by straight to the heart words,” said Mr Spreadbury-Maher.

n Constance, featuring actors Ellie Bevan and James Vaughan, runs until October 22 and shows at 7.15pm start from Monday to Thursday. Visit www.kingsheadtheatre.com or call 0207 478 0160.


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