FROM one of the highest points in his career to the lowest, the story of Oscar Wilde’s descent has always been a fascinating tale.

The writer found himself consigned to prison following two high profile court cases of the time.

Wilde had just witness the success of The Importance of Being Earnest but less than 100 days later everything seemed to come crashing down.

But what really happened in that courtroom? Was Wilde the instrument of his own demise? These were questions that writer and director John O’Connor needed answering.

By gaining access to the actual transcripts from the court cases, O’Connor has been able to reconstruct what happened and put it on stage.

He told the Gazette: “It didn’t take long to realise that this story would make a fascinating play. I wondered what had happened during the trials and what Wilde had said.

“It wasn't until the transcript of the libel trial was discovered by Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, after more than 100 years.

“The main challenge was not what to include, but what to take out. The libel transcript runs to 80,000 words and Wilde’s testimony is the closest thing we have to a recording of his voice.”

What unfolds is a court drama like no other, but for O’Connor he wanted to fill the stage rather than just setting the whole play in the courtroom.

He added: “We wanted to create the grand world of the courtroom, but we also needed to bring in elements of drama from the outside world too the trials of 1985 became a huge media circus."

“I wanted to explore what might have been going on in Wilde’s psyche and made him act the way he did.”

O’Connor added: “What’s fascinating about the play is that we get to hear Wilde’s actual words spoken under pressure and off the cuff. The audience has a ringside seat at the so-called ‘trial of the century’”

The Trials of Oscar Wilde will be performed at the Haymarket on April 17 and 18.