In July and August 2005, I spent two weeks in Ireland. Most of it was with a tour group via a public radio station, before I stayed at a Dublin hostel for three days.
Oddly, the Abbey doesn’t allow patrons into the auditorium until a quarter till eight (and the performance is scheduled for 8 pm). So I wandered around inside the building. You can look at paintings as you ascend the stairs to the balcony and bar, and the room upstairs has many paintings all around. Some are by John Yeats (W. B.’s dad), such as the portrait of Lady Gregory. (At the National Gallery today, I saw similar portraits, because I went to the Yeats gallery.)
I eventually sat down and continued reading the Dublin book Liz lent me, until it was just about time and I went downstairs, bought a program from a cute boy, and sat down: three rows back, dead centre. If I had been in the front row, I would have been at knee level, but I liked where I was, because I got a good look at detail. Costumes, costumes, costumes!
Scenery: a French café at the turn of the century, when Oscar Wilde has left prison and is living in poverty and experiencing writer’s block. It is a colorful, whimsical, Art Nouveau café, with floral stained glass windows in curving shapes, a stained glass double door with the naked male figure that’s also on the posters and the program. Lamps feature brightly colored, flower-shaped glass shades. Upstage left is a bar counter and plenty of bottles and glasses. Upstage left are café tables and at the back an ivory-colored chaise lounge and matching cushioned chair. There are several circular café tables covered with pale pink cloths and then green satin tablecloths over the pink. Downstage center is one of these tables, along with a couple of café chairs. Oh, yes, I should mention the curving staircase — to the left and above the double doors. In front of the chaise lounge are two tall lampposts with coat hooks around them (later serving as trees in the garden scene). When the curtain rises, a peacock sculpture sits atop a matching peacock-feathered tablecloth on a café table downstage right.
Framework story. Rather than the opening scene I know in The Importance of Being Earnest, this production has a framework story with Oscar Wilde at this café toward the end of his life…