Q: Is this the first time you have directed a play by Oscar Wilde? What about his work most appeals to you as a director?
Lezlie Wade: It's the first time I've directed an Oscar Wilde play, but I've directed quite a few plays by his contemporaries. I also directed a musical called A Man of No Importance, which was a story based on a character who identified with Oscar Wilde and who was trying to direct a production of Salome. When I was working on that show, I did a lot of research on Oscar, so it's very nice to be returning to what feels a bit like an old friend.
I love Oscar Wilde's keen perceptions on society. He understands the hypocrisy, the rules, and the consequences of breaking those rules. It's wonderful to explore the relationships between men and women in Victorian society. On top of all that, I absolutely love immersing myself in period research. There isn't enough time in the day for me to read everything I want to read. It's compelling stuff!
Q: Will this production be firmly set in Wilde's own era? Which themes do you think will resonate most strongly with a contemporary audience?
LW: We are absolutely setting the production in the time period in which it was written, but the themes of political imbroglios, sexual inequality, marriage, and the nature of good versus evil are all as relevant as ever. In fact, with all of the recent news events and social discussions about sexual misconduct and political lies, this play couldn't be more timely.
Q: Tell us a bit about your casting process, and the sorts of dynamics and interplay the audiences can look forward to between these richly interesting characters.
LW: Whenever I'm casting a play, I simply want the best actors for the parts, and I absolutely lucked out this season. Tim Campbell and Sophia Walker are beautifully matched as husband and wife. They are both smart, intuitive actors who are genuinely likeable and honest on stage. Brad Hodder is the perfect Lord Goring: he's delightfully enigmatic and witty and alluring, which are all great qualities of the character. Pairing him with Bahareh Yaraghi is just fantastic - she's someone whose work I've admired. I think she and Brad are going to sizzle on stage.
I've always wanted to work with Marion Adler, who is playing Lady Markby, and I'm over the moon about the chance to work with Joseph Ziegler as Lord Caversham. I remember seeing Joe work on the Stratford stage when I was just a teenager. He also taught me a directing class when I was still green, so it's particularly nice to be working with him on this show. I feel honoured to have the cast I have: this show sparkles with wit, and with sexual tension, and this cast is going to excel.