Mickle Street is the latest show at the Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3, and the experience is like sitting in a room with two great writers, Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde, as they converse about different topics. The first word that comes to mind when thinking about this show is engaging. Playwright, Michael Whistler, has achieved looking into the minds of these two iconic writers and created a play that is not only insightful, but reveals the passions of Whitman and Wilde.
Mickle Street is a world premiere play that takes place in 1882 and is based on a meeting that took place between Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde. Walt Whitman at this point in his career is well established and renowned for his work, whereas Wilde is rather young and in the early stage of this career and has yet to publish his writings. These two great literary men at two very different points in their life and careers talk about life, the state of poetry and literature and their views on and personal definition of beauty. What this show accomplishes is brilliant, as it brings to life two great writers who discuss such topics as poetry and art. Within this play, Whistler captures the souls of these two literary icons and presents a play that truly encapsulates the brilliance and wonder of Wilde and Whitman.
Under the direction of Greg Wood, Mickle Street transports audiences back to the late 19th century to witness a conversation between two great men. Buck Schirner plays Walt Whitman. Shrirner portrays Whitman exactly as I would imagine him to be, disheveled as well as witty. There is a dialogue in the show where Whitman talks about the wonder and beauty of an acorn and how this acorn will become a mighty tree. This discussion is perfect to characterize Whitman and his transcendental beliefs as well as showing his deep appreciation of the beauty in nature. Schirner flawlessly captures the essence of Whitman and creates a very believable portrayal of this literary legend. Daniel Fredrick plays Oscar Wilde. Wilde, a dandy, begins the show with what appears to be a sense of entitlement, and through his conversation with Whitman the audience can experience how this changes Wilde. By the end of the show he appears to have grown and gained a deeper sense of self and further insights into his craft. I immensely enjoyed Frederick’s performance as he allowed the audience to connect with his character even though at first the character may seem a bit egocentric and self-serving, we find that this may not necessarily be the man beneath veneer. Rounding out this cast is Sabrina Profitt who plays Mary, a widow who lives above Whitman’s kitchen. Profitt’s performance is animated and full of energy as the spirited Mary. This character helps to tie the story together through humor, another point of view and assists in furthering the plot as it unfolds.
Mickle Street runs at the Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 until March 8, 2015. For more information and tickets visit their website athttp://www.walnutstreettheatre.org or call the box office at 215-574-3550.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin
Final Thought: Mickle Street is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening looking into the personality and influence of Whitman and Wilde. This show perfectly brings to life these two great writers and it is a reminder of the genius of these two men.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com and is a freelance writer. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.