Caro Meets Theatre Interview

John Gorick: The Trials Of Oscar Wilde

By | Published on Sunday 24 March 2019

You’re possibly already aware of the play ‘The Trials Of Oscar Wilde’, written by John O’Connor and direct Wilde descendent Merlin Holland, as it’s been performed in London before, to great acclaim.

Luckily for those who haven’t yet managed to take it in, it’s in on in the capital for a few days as part of a tour. To find out more about the play and the production, I spoke to John Gorick, who plays Wilde.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the narrative of the play? How does the play approach this angle of Wilde’s life?​
JG: The play uses verbatim text from the actual trials of Oscar Wilde at the end of the 19th century. First, the libel trial, when he tried to sue the Marquess of Queensbury for calling him a “sodomite” in public. And then the criminal trial, when he was consequently imprisoned for his homosexuality.

CM: What themes and ideas are raised by the play? Would you regard it as political?
JG: Yes, it is political as well as personal. Gay rights are still, obviously, a global political issue but the play also resonates with recent celebrity sex scandals, how the press reacts in those situations and how opinion can divide so strongly over these personal crises. It also speaks a lot about the fundamental complexity of human nature. There is no doubt that Oscar did some bad things (he betrayed his wife in a very flagrant way) and yet he is still adored for his genius wit and compelling persona. But he was put in gaol for something that should not have been a crime and he was made an example (he received a draconian sentence) in a very vindictive way.

CM: What attracted you to this role? What do you like about it?
​JG: It’s that complexity of character that is appealing. Of course, you get some great lines, because he is incredibly erudite and witty under courtroom pressure. But he is also very flawed, foolish, occasionally heartless and exceptionally self-regarding! He’s a fascinating, entertaining, layered icon.

CM: How did you prepare to play it?
JG: There are some great biographies of Oscar for research. And living in London, a lot of the locations referenced in the play are still there to explore.

CM: Can you tell us about the writing team behind the play? I know that John O’Connor is also directing, but has Merlin Holland been directly involved with the production?
JG: Yes, Merlin (Oscar’s grandson) was very much involved in co-writing the text and we saw quite a lot of him during the previous production with European Arts five years ago. John has also been directing this time, and Merlin will be doing a Q&A before the play when we perform in Harrow on 24 Apr.

CM: And can you tell us a bit about the cast – who are they and who do they play?
JG: Rupert Mason plays the Marquess of Queensbury, Edward Carson QC and other roles, Patrick Knox plays Sir Edward Clarke QC and others and Benjamin Darlington plays the rent boy Charles Parker (one of the witnesses used against Oscar) and many other roles​.

CM: It looks like you’re at the start of quite a long tour – how do you cope with all the coming and going?
JG: It’s actually not that long compared with others. With touring, as long as you all get on well (and we do!), it’s not a problem.

CM: Can we talk a bit about you now? How did you end up in a theatrical career, was it something you always aspired to?
JG: Ever since childhood I have loved going to the theatre and also performing. Initially I did the ‘sensible’ thing and started a conventional business career but then in my late 20s I had a change of heart and did the ‘foolish’ thing and trained for an acting life!

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
​JG: To keep working as long as I enjoy it and people will employ me.

CM: What’s coming up for you next after this?
JG: A holiday in Northern Macedonia!

‘The Trials Of Oscar Wilde’ is on at Greenwich Theatre from 2-6 Apr, see the venue website here for details. | |