De Profundis at Leicester Square Theatre
Selected from over 100 contestants and six finalists as winner of Leicester Square Theatre’s The New Musical Project, Paul Dale Vickers’ musical adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s poem De Profundis (“From the Depths”) is well deserving of the accolade bestowed upon it.
Based on Wilde’s letter from Reading Gaol to his long-term lover Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”) the musical tackles one of Wilde’s most famous works, rising to the challenge with astonishing ease.
Directed by Stuart Saint, with musical direction by Michael Riley, the production’s minimalist style befits Wilde’s incarceration and increasing emotional isolation towards the end of his two-year prison sentence. More than that, with design and lighting stripped to a bare minimum, the production not only accommodates the intimacy of the theatre’s Lounge space, it also places the focus exactly where it should be: on the beauty of Wilde’s words, Dale Vickers’ score, and Alastair Brookshaw’s outstanding interpretation of both.
Flawless and riveting, Brookshaw’s performance brings to life Wilde’s memories of his self-destructive relationship with Douglas, and his emotional and spiritual development during his time in prison. Dale Vickers’ beautiful ballads and deeply touching laments convincingly render the conflicting feelings of love, resentment, guilt and forgiveness that are at the heart of Wilde’s poem.
Some of the production’s most captivating moments and its most memorable songs engage with Wilde’s feelings of affection and loss as he thinks of his mother, wife and sons. The spoken addresses to Douglas lack the same impact. However, far from being a shortcoming, this adds further intensity to the musical exploration of “the depths” of Wilde’s soul and his conscious choice of love over hate.
A stunning example of what can be achieved with a brilliant source text, a riveting score and an outstanding performer, De Profundis is both an exceptional accomplishment and a unique musical experience. A must-see for admirers of Oscar Wilde’s work.
Photo: Steve Ullathorne
De Profundis is at Leicester Square Theatre until 8th June 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.