Russell's worst film to date. Stagily constrained to a single set, it has Oscar Wilde (Grace) taking time off from enviable epigrams to suffer a private production of his banned play, put on by his friends, the staff and clients of a singularly decadent Victorian brothel. They're a motley crew: Johns made up like a pier-show performer as Herod, Jackson whining Mrs Cravatt-style as Herodias, and our Ken himself as a dementedly salacious photographer. The petulant nymph, as incarnated by Millais-Scott - seemingly a graduate of the Toyah Wilcox School of Over Emphatic Diction and Hyper-active Eyelids - is depressingly tiresome; as is Russell's spastic balancing act between reality and illusion, which tenuously ties the text to Wilde's tormented longings for handsome young Bosie (Hodge). The in-jokes are plain silly, Russell's customary irreverence a matter of flatulent, leering Carry On-style humour, the decor sub-Beardsley, the whole thing redolent of a retarded pornographer's revue.
Cast and crew
Russell Lee Nash