Diversions & Delights (1977-1980) | When Vincent Price scored a theatrical triumph playing Oscar Wilde

Diversions & Delights (1977-1980) | When Vincent Price scored a theatrical triumph playing Oscar Wilde

Diversions & Delights

Despite having appeared on the stage throughout his career, Vincent Price’s greatest theatrical triumph was undoubtedly his one-man show, Diversions & Delights, in which he played the playwright and author Oscar Wilde.

Originally titled Oscar Wilde: Well Chosen Enemies by dramatist John Gay (while waiting out the famed Writers Guild of America strike), the play is set in a Parisian concert hall on the Rue de la Pepinier in 1899 on the evening of 28 November 1899, a year before Wilde’s death, at the age of 46.

In an attempt to earn some much-needed money, Wilde (using the moniker Sebastian Melmoth and perserving with an inner ear infection as well as other maladies) is speaking to the audience about his life, his works and, in Act Two, about his love for Lord Alfred Douglas.

REACTION
When Diversions & Delights opened in San Francisco at the Marine’s Memorial Theatre on July 11, 1977, critics raved over Price’s performance.

‘A delight, witty and moving’
(Clive Barnes, New York Post)

‘Vincent Price is a master’
(Wall Street Journal)

‘Wonderfully moving’
(Washington Post)

‘A virtuoso performance’
(New York Post)

“Vincent Price is a ‘Wilde’ delight”
(Variety)

The play was transferred to Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in 1978, with previews beginning on 10 April, followed by a 13-performance run from April 12-22 in 1978. In the summer of 1979, Price performed it at the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado, on the same stage from which Wilde had spoken to local miners about art almost 100 years prior.

Over the next two years, Vincent would go on to give 800 performances in 300 cities, both in the US and in Australia, which gave Price the chance to visit his third wife Coral Browne’s hometown in Melbourne, and also Perth on the West coast. Click on the photo below to hear a 22 second TV ad about Vincent’s Australian tour.

 

LISTEN TO THE PLAY IN TWO PARTS
Here’s a rare recording of the production recorded at the Westwood Playhouse on 2 November, 1982.

The July 1977 playbill from the Marine’s Memorial Theatre in San Francisco

 

Ticket Stub from 1978, when the play performed at the West Michigan Theatre

 

A signed playbill from the Roundabout Theatre, New York where the play opened on 11 September, 1979
This is an early draft of the play entitled Well Chosen Enemies, and was Price’s personal copy.
Vincent’s blocking script, dated November 11, 1977
Vincent’s signed and annotated blocking script
The Australian program from my personal collection

EMSave

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *