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Sociologists have long debated the appeal of celebrity scandal. Is being entertained by the downfall of a well-known figure a harmless diversion? Or is the voyeuristic thrill akin to throwing stones at those who dare to challenge the status quo? The latest production from Walking Shadow Theatre Company, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, uses one of history's most notorious examples of a celebrity takedown to explore such questions. Meticulously researched by playwright Moisés Kaufman, Gross Indecency recounts the infamous circumstances by which one of the most celebrated writers of his generation found widespread public acclaim sour to hostile condemnation. The whole thing started when the Marquees of Queensbury, father to Wilde's male lover, accused the author of being a "somdomite." When Wilde sued the Marquees for libel, he played right into his antagonist's hands, giving his accuser justification to unearth every hidden detail of Wilde's private life. Though the verdict would linger over three trials, Gross Indecency's use of primary source materials (including trial manuscripts, newspaper articles, and Wilde's own writings) shows just how quickly the author was denounced in the court of public opinion. Directed by Amy Rummenie and featuring Craig Johnson in the title role, Gross Indecency looks compelling enough to question the salacious pleasures of TMZ. (Photo by Napolean Sarony)
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.; Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: April 12. Continues through May 4, 2013