The Trials of Oscar Wilde

Supported by Arts Council England


October – November 2015


John Gorick
Rupert Mason
William Kempsell


Writers: Merlin Holland & John O’Connor
Director: Peter Craze
Designer: Dora Schweitzer
Lighting: Duncan Hands
Sound: Derek Carlyle
Stage Manager: Tamsin Withers
Photography: Emily Hyland


Trafalgar Studios, London

The Show

A thrilling dramatisation of the libel and criminal trials of Oscar Wilde by his grandson Merlin Holland and John O'Connor. Following a 60 date UK tour, this show transferred to Trafalgar Studios in the West End. 14 February 1895 was the triumphant opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest and the zenith of Wilde's career. Less than 100 days later, he found himself a common prisoner sentenced to two years hard labour. So what happened during the trials and what did Wilde say? Was he persecuted or the author of his own downfall? Using the actual words spoken in court, we can feel what it was like to be in the company of a flawed genius - as this less than ideal husband was suddenly reduced to a man of no importance.


‘A sell-out success. John Gorick is a beguiling Wilde in a smart play that reveals the establishment at its worst.’
'For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play. The result is as good as being in the gallery.'
The Independent
'Oscar Wilde is brought back to life in this new play about the writer’s downfall. John O’Connor and Merlin Holland (the grandson of Wilde) have adapted the transcripts into a fascinating play.’ 
Time Out
'There is a prurient fascination here in watching Wilde's shifting moral compass. Writers John O'Connor and Merlin Holland have ensured there is plenty of context - Wilde's barbed point about a brothel being close to the Houses of Parliament is well made. Without attempting to excuse Wilde, this portrays a man whose own arrogance helped precipitate a downfall that was engineered not for what he did, but what he stood for.'
Time Out
'Despite the tension of the trial, flashes of Wilde’s flippant wit shine through. How, demands Carson, can Wilde not regard his letters to Douglas as extraordinary? “I think everything I write is extraordinary.” Attaboy, Oscar.’
London Evening Standard
'The Trials of Oscar Wilde is hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking. It sheds light on a genius who continues to fascinate us, as well as tapping into current concerns about celebrity trials and the criminalisation of homosexuality as equality takes one step forwards and two back. Wilde aficionados will love it – but the themes reverberate far wider.
Entertainment Focus
‘There’s something about a courtroom drama which exerts a peculiar fascination. Lying on oath is never a clever thing to do. Especially when it starts with a fudge about your actual age. The play revels in Wilde's posing, his delight with his own bon mots, and his inability to take this public platform seriously until far too late.’
'Written by Wilde’s only grandchild Merlin Holland and actor/producer John O’Connor, this is a form of verbatim theatre that fillets the transcripts of Wilde’s three trials and draws on letters and some of his other writing to give an entirely factual account of Wilde’s story.’
British Theatre Guide

European Arts Company


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