Having been sent to America to prepare the new world for a forthcoming tour of Gilbert and Sullivan's latest opus, Patience, Oscar Wilde, knee britches and all, finds himself in the definitely uncouth precincts of Leadville, Colorado. He arrives just as the local good-old-boys are about to dispense swift justice to a young bandit, part of the Jesse James gang, who was captured after robbing the local bank. Immediately smitten by the fetching youth, Wilde, with the town's ladies in support, outtalks the impatient judge and demands a new trial—at which he will appear for the defense. Drawing on his devastating wit and verbal agility, Wilde soon convinces the awed citizenry that the boy, Jody, is the real victim—which is fine until Jesse James himself bursts in to recapture his coveted protégé. From then on the action becomes an hilarious contest between the menacing gunman (abetted by a definitely jealous Belle Starr); the bumbling sheriff (who first arrests and then is overcome by the outlaws); and the resourceful Wilde (who has promised Jody a position as his "private secretary"). When James and his cohorts finally saddle up and gallop out of town the resigned Wilde dutifully begins to regale the ladies with his scheduled lecture on "The Beautification of Boudoir" —just as a dusty Jody quietly tiptoes in and, with a shy glance at Wilde, surreptitiously seats himself in the back row.
A totally original and truly funny play which recounts an hilarious confrontation between the super-sophisticate Oscar Wilde and the rough-and-ready citizens of Leadville, Colorado, in the 1800s. Touring America under the aegis of Rupert D'Oyly Carte, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, Wilde (as the author has it) comes upon the imminent lynching of a young bandit (who is much too handsome to die) and, despite the involvement of a "hanging judge," Jesse James, Belle Starr, and a bumbling sheriff, uses his wit and withering repartee to spare the poor boy for "better things."