The Ballad Of Reading Gaol: A Bleak Adaptation Of Oscar Wilde's Poem

The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Theatre N16 ★★★☆☆

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The Ballad Of Reading Gaol: A Bleak Adaptation Of Oscar Wilde's Poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Theatre N16 3

Prepare to be creeped out by this bleak, minimalist adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s poem. The work was first published in 1898, following Wilde’s two year imprisonment for the crimes of sodomy and gross indecency, and just two years before the writer's death.

Wilde rails against horrific conditions of the notorious lock-up, and the despair of his fellow prisoners. The verse is interwoven with tales from five fellow inmates — some more likeable and coherent than others.

Directed by David Brady, the piece is tightly choreographed, at times acrobatic, conveying the stir-craziness the convicts feel as they tell their stories and contemplate their futures. James Vincent stands out as a deluded killer bound for the gallows.

Housed in the spooky concrete surroundings of Styx warehouse space, with just a few searchlights and slamming doors at the disposal of the young cast, the oppressive intimacy leaves us wondering if we would ever see daylight again.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Theatre N16, 5 Ashley Road, N17 9LJ. Tickets £14/£11, until 1 August 2018.

Last Updated 26 July 2018