Tea with Oscar Wilde

Don’t Go Into the Cellar

Old Joint Stock


THE intimacy of the venue was a perfect for this interesting presentation. The simple setting of two chairs, a small wine table and a potted palm typified a Victorian parlour.

Oscar Wilde, (Jonathan Goodwin) was excellent in the pivotal role of the famous, (or should that be infamous) writer and wit who courted scandal and outrage during his colourful lifetime.

Billed as 'a Victorian chat show with a difference', it was obvious that we were in for an evening of alternative entertainment.

Oscar’s first guest, William McGonagall (Phil Jennings) was introduced as a vision in tartan. Some banter, weak jokes and sluggish conversation between the two wastea with oscar poster interspersed with dull and humourless poetry from McGonagall.

This all seemed a little confusing until we discovered during the interval (thanks to a popular search engine), that rather than being a poor quality fictional character as we had thought, McGonagall was in fact a real person who ‘was widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language’.

With this revelation, what we had seen previously was no longer confusing and began to make sense. If only we had known this beforehand, then the polite laughter may have been rather more genuine! Perhaps a more well known ‘guest’ would have been a better choice as we were not alone in not having heard of William Topaz McGonagall.

'Guest ' number two was Marie Lloyd (Sali Gresham), the well-known musical hall favourite who sang and chatted pleasantly, recounting saucy moments about her trio of husbands. Audience participation was encouraged throughout the show and we joined in with her renditions of 'Down at the Old Bull and Bush' and ' My Old Man (Said Follow the Van)’

Both Gresham and Jennings seemed tentative in their delivery at times but Goodwin, like any good chat show host, managed to encourage them along and pick up the pace.

The highlight of the production came from Goodwin as Oscar Wilde, in the form of two beautifully delivered monologues. These fables were not only delightful in their simplicity but utterly thought provoking. Performed with sentiment and poignancy, Goodwin had the audience transfixed and silent.

If one is familiar with the writing and style of Mr Wilde, Goodwin’s cleverly written production is for you. A pleasurable evening of entertainment, packed full with familiar phrases and witty impromptu retorts that flow smoothly from the pouting lips of the cloak flouncing, fedora topped Oscar. ‘Pleasure is the only thing one should live for. Nothing ages like happiness"

Rosemary Manjunath and Elizabeth Smith


(Don’t Go Into the Cellar return to the OJS later in the year with an as yet unannounced production) 


Index page OJS Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre