Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

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Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde (1997) is a play written and directed by Moisés Kaufman. It deals with Oscar Wilde's three trials on the matter of his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas and other men.


At the time, homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom. Wilde had a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, a younger man, whose father wanted it to end. , and Wilde was charged with "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons". Kaufman created the play from extensive research and uses quotes from "contemporary court documents, newspaper accounts and books by and about Wilde," openly referring to his sources by sometimes having actors read from them on stage.[1]

The first trial was a private prosecution for criminal libel that Wilde brought against Douglas's father the Marquess of Queensberry for statements he made about the writer. Wilde lost that trial.

Given the publicity about his relationship with Douglas, and Douglas's own statements about the writer, Wilde was charged with homosexuality, and brought to criminal trial. In the second trial, his first on these charges, the jury did not reach a verdict. In the third trial, the second for homosexual acts, Wilde was convicted and sentenced to hard labour.


  • Michael Emerson - Oscar Wilde[1]
  • Bill Dawes - Lord Alfred Douglas
  • Robert Blumenfeld - His father, Douglas, the Marquess of Queensberry
  • Trevor Anthony - lawyer for prosecution
  • John McAdams - lawyer for defense

The following actors play multiple parts and at times serve as a chorus

  • Andy Paris
  • Greg Pierotti
  • Troy Sostillio
  • Greg Steinbruner


Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde premiered Off-Broadway on February 27, 1997 at the Greenwich House. After a rave review by Ben Brantley of The New York Times, it sold out and the run was extended.[2] It ran there until May 5 and then transferred to the commercial Minetta Lane Theatre, also Off-Broadway, opening in June 1997.[1]

The play also opened on the West Coast that year, in November 1997 at San Francisco's Theatre on the Square. It later received two critically acclaimed productions in Los Angeles: the first was at the Mark Taper Forum in 1998, following the New York premiere.[3] More than 10 years later, Susan Lee directed a revival at the Eclectic Theatre in 2009.[4][5]


Both productions in Los Angeles were critically acclaimed.