The rise and fall (and ultimate rise again) of Oscar Wilde is usually portrayed as a personal drama pitting hubris against humorlessness, wit against witlessness, with the political and more obvious social aspects of the drama usually left out. In The Judas Kiss, David Hare, one of England's most noted political playwrights, rebalances the scales.
Set during Wilde's trial for "acts of gross indecency," The Judas Kiss examines why the playwright--given the chance--did not flee to France when it appeared that a guilty verdict (and harsh prison term) was inevitable. The interconnectedness of the personal and the political that has always been the theme of Hare's stage and screen work is present here as well. Hare's Wilde is a man of sexual, romantic, and political principle; what appears to many to be nothing more than an iron-willed whim of self-destruction is revealed as a matter of deeply held belief. As usual, Hare aims at provocation (and achieves it), but the genius of The Judas Kiss lies in his ability to make us rethink and reevaluate familiar history and force us to abandon preconceptions and prejudices to view the world--as well as our own experiences and emotions--in a new, and often startling, light. --Michael Bronski [via]