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A CurtainUp Review
My Scandalous Life

Oscar Wilde, did you say? That's all you lot ever ask about. Wilde-Wilde-Wilde Wilde!.For heaven's sake, all that was nearly fifty years ago. It's my life now. — Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas.
My Scandalous Life
Des Keogh
(Photo: Carol Rosegg)
My Scandalous Life at the Irish Repertory Theater is the story of Lord Alfred Douglas and the struggles that overwhelmed him in the last half-century of his life. Nicknamed quot;Bosie" by his mother, Douglas wore several hats during his 75 years. He was an acclaimed poet, writer and editor, but the top hat belonged to his intimate friendship with Oscar Wilde. It was this notorious relationship and its aftermath, including his own court trials and public disdain, that haunted Bosie.

Well-known Irish actor Des Keogh ( Confessions of an Irish Publican ) delivers a probing interpretation Lord Alfred questioning his self-worth and giving voice to his suspicions, hatreds and personal anguish. The play is set over three days in a drawing room in Hove, England and the sound of bombs outside estable the middle of World War II time frame.

Douglas's big question is why everyone is only interested in his affair with Oscar Wilde. "Why don't you ask about the people who have really mattered in my life? Eh? My darling son, Raymond. My mother. My wife, Olive."

As Douglas speaks Olive to whom he married almost 50 years ago, not long after Wilde's death in 1900. Although the marriage lacked sexual passion there was genuine affection. Since she came from a wealthy family, he also depended on her financial support. As hee has come to understand that he was attracted to Olive's masculine side, as she was to his feminine side, they would have succeeded better as best friends.

though My Scandalous Life is essentially a one-man play it does have another character in Eileen (Fiana Tiobin), Olive's large, feisty maid/caretaker. her occasional blustering entrances lift the mood of Boise's brooding monologue and add enough of a comical edge not to make her an irrelevant aside. She also keeps the story thrusting forward, bringing up some details that carry Bosie to another subject. It is her comments, for example, that lead him to admit the tragedy of son, Raymond who was committed to St. Andrews Hospital for the Insane. Bosie torments himself about the cause of his son's madness, fearing it comes through him and his homosexuality and violent family history.

Bosie who often admitted to differing versions of everything here he blames Olive's father for having attempted to corrupt Raymond, conspiring with the hated Robbie Ross (another intimate of Wilde's, although Bosie insists that it was he who was Wilde's real "Beloved." who released letters that let to Wilde on trial and imprisonment). Bosie's s ferocious hatred was as much against his own nature as against Robbie Ross and Olive's father.

The focus on one actor through one character's memories and grievances can drag heavily in less adept hands, yet under director John Going, Bosie and Eileen's interactions revive sluggish moments, serving the plot and keeping the tale compelling. Des Keogh brings to life Bosie's moods of nostalgia, his desperate prayers and his red-faced fury. Fiana Tiobin is a blustery questioning dynamo. Yet, even while never shown actually caring for Olive and later Raymond, she seems to be dedicated to her charges.

My Scandalous Life, is a neat fit for the small W. Scott McLucas Studio Theater. Charlie Corcoran's set displays furniture that is not yet shabby but well-used. David Toser's costuming puts Bosie in a natty dressing gown with ascot and after Olive's death, in a subdued suit. Eileen wears wrinkled heavy stockings and working clothes, her red hair wildly flouncing around her head. A nod to Michael O'Connor's lighting that provides stark drama for the shocking and theatrical ending.

MyScandalous Life by Thomas Kilroy
Directed by John Going

Cast: Des Keogh and Fiana Toibin
Set Design: Charlie Corcoran
Costume Design: David Toser
Lighting Design: Michael O'Connor
Sound Design: Zach Williamson
Running Time: 115 min. no intermission.
W. Scott M. Lucas Studio Theatre at Irish Repertory Theater (132 West 22nd Street)
Tickets: $30. 212-727-2737 or online at
Performances: Wednesday-Saturday at; Saturday at 3 PM, 8 PM. Sunday at 3 PM.
From 2/2/11; 0pening 2/6/11. Closing 3/6/11
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 2/3/11
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