Arts

Wilde life and times in historic Fremantle venue

JASMINE COOKSON & GARETH THOMAS

Kidogo Arthouse on the shore of Bathers Beach in Fremantle is hosting a fresh take on the life and times of literary icon Oscar Wilde.

Playwright Frank Murphy said his work his latest work, Never Give All of the Heart, is an exploration of the contradiction of Oscar Wilde’s life and was inspired, in part, by the Irish popular vote to legalise same sex marriage in May 2015.

“This is not a piece of total drama, it’s a reportage,” he said.

Murphy said the play was designed to display juxtaposition between the struggles of gay people in Victorian society with the gay rights movement in the 21st first century.

“For homosexuality in Victorian times it was cover up and clean up, close the door walk away,” he said.

“But Wilde opened it, but boy, he killed himself in the process.”

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In 1895 Wilde was found guilty of acts of “gross indecency” and sentenced to two years in prison. After being released from prison Wilde’s health declined until his death in 1900.

Playing the role of Oscar Wilde is female Perth Actor Lucy Eyre who Mr Murphy described as someone that assumed the all the dimensions of Oscar Wilde.

“She was the best actress to do it,” he said.

“Oscar would have approved of this choice.”

Ms Eyre said stepping into Wilde’s flamboyant and hedonistic shoes had been a “ wonderful experience”.

Playing the role of every other character in the play is Perth based Opera singer and finalist on Australia has Talent Fiona Mariah.

Mariah said the play was more like a staged reading as there was a large amount of dialogue, discussion and Oscar Wilde quotes.

“The audience will come away knowing Oscar Wilde and the life he lived a lot better,” she said.

Kidogo Art House is located in the 19th century kerosene stores at the historic Arthur Head Reserve precinct in Fremantle.

The building was constructed in 1884 when Wilde was 30 years old.

Murphy said the age and heritage of the building influenced his decision to hold the performance there.

“ It’s a very interesting place to bring a story from the last century into the present,” he said.

Kidogo Arthouse founder Joanna Robertson said Murphy decided the Arthouse would be a fitting space for the performance given their shared Irish roots and love of Oscar Wilde.

“We’re very much about WA developed art, poetry, literature and plays, so it’s very fitting,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the play was one of many events being hosted at the arthouse, along with book readings, concerts and exhibitions, to help promote Kidogo.

A new multi-purpose outdoor deck overlooking Bathers Beach was built onto the side of the building, privately funded by Robertson.

She said the expertly crafted, jarrah deck represented Kidogo wanting to use its space for local talent and art works, as well as contribute to the culture of Fremantle.

“I want Bathers Beach and Kidogo Arthouse to become a famous place to visit for a cultural experience,” she said.

Photo by Jasmine Cookson

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