Oscar in extremis on Old Town Hall stage

In Extremis play at Old Town Hall Hemel Hempstead April 2013
In Extremis play at Old Town Hall Hemel Hempstead April 2013

Just a week before Oscar Wilde stepped into the dock for the trial that would change the whole course of his life, he visited a society palm reader in her London apartment. What happened next?

That’s the intriguing premise of In Extremis, a short two-hand play by Neil Bartlett that will be presented at Hemel Hempstead’s Old Town Hall next Wednesday

The play, which will be followed by a question and answer session with the actors, tries to understand the turmoil that drew one of the most celebrated men of his age to turn to a complete stranger for advice. Publicly accused of sodomy by the Marquess of Queensberry – whose son Alfred Douglas was having an affair with the writer and wit – he was about to attempt to sue his accuser for libel.

This would start a chain of events that would lead to him being convicted of gross indecency, spend two years in prison, and die while in exile in France three years later.

Faced with the choice of fight or flight, was Oscar’s fateful decision based on the advice he received that night?

Tickets are £10, £8 concessions, from 01442 228091.