The Picture of Dorian Gray – Richmond Theatre

Writer: Oscar Wilde

Adaptor/Director: Sean Adyon

Reviewer: Sophia Moss

“I’m not heartless, but this isn’t affecting me like it should,” Dorian admits. It’s something we can all relate to in one way or another, but for Dorian it marks the beginning of his descent into a hedonistic lifestyle of sex, drugs and god knows what else.

The Picture of Dorian Gray was written in 1890, but countless adaptions and character cameos have ensured that almost everyone knows the story of the beautiful man who sold his soul to remain young forever while his portrait ages in the attic. Sean Aydon’s adaption of Dorian Gray is mostly true to the book and the script is laden with Oscar Wilde’s witty words. The play does, however, turn James Vane and Allen Campbell into Catherine Vane and Ellen Campbell (both played by Adele James).

It was a good idea to give Sybil (Kate Dobson) an older sister who challenges Victorian gender norms by being protective and aggressive, but the character doesn’t have much of an impact because she is largely played in a monotone and is thus pretty forgettable. Adele’s portrayal of Campbell is better but turning that character into a woman didn’t add anything to the story and actually took away some of the subtext.

Brunette Gavin Fowler may not look much like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, but he gives a memorable performance which only gets better as Dorian becomes more callous. He doesn’t show us a monster: he plays a selfish boy who is drunk on getting everything he wants. During a brilliant scene with Samuel Townsend (boy), he stands with his legs wide, voice dripping with egotism and sexuality, while he preaches hedonistic principles and everything, from the acting to the script, is perfect.

Daniele Goode (Basil Hallward) also gives a great performance as the sweet yet wry painter. He doesn’t outright state his romantic feelings for Dorian, but they are apparent in the way his voice goes soft when he talks to him, in the way he keeps nodding his head sadly after his confession of adoration falls on unimpressed ears. Jonathan Wrather (Lord Henry) is a good actor, but there is something lacking in his performance.

The set walls are a blotchy baby blue and look half painted. There is a divan in the middle of the stage, a piano in one corner and a canvas with a see-through glass frame as the infamous portrait. A few more props for Basil’s studio to represent the aesthetic style interior decorating would have been welcome. Strobe lights and loud music are used sparingly but effectively.

This isn’t the best adaption of The Picture of Dorian Gray ever made, but it is an enjoyable evening none the less. If you’re a fan of the book this performance won’t offend you and if you’re not it will hopefully encourage you to read it.

Runs until Saturday 27 April 2019 | Image: Craig Sugdon


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