The Picture of Dorian Gray at Richmond Theatre
With youth and beauty on his side, Dorian Gray (Gavin Fowler) is a muse like no other. Adored by his gifted portrait painter, the didactic Basil Hallward (Daniel Goode) and wooed by the hedonistic Lord Henry Wotton (Jonathan Wrather), Dorian is led to follow suit – placing debauchery ahead of morality, tarnishing his reputation in the process. It would only take a few hard blows for the narcissist to realise the consequences of his own actions, but might this realisation have come too late?
A romantic exhibition of its author’s own aestheticism, The Picture of Dorian Gray, through the story’s protagonist, captures Oscar Wilde’s admiration for the beautiful, as well as his tendency towards the profane, summarising the playwright’s split personality and the confusion which had surrounded his sexuality at the time – the latter depicted through the homoerotic undertones that are recurring in this text. Thanks to Matt Haskins and Jon McLeod, whose synchronous lighting and sound design accommodate Dorian Gray’s metamorphosis from good to evil slickly, the show is wildly atmospheric, and the heightened production values of these two components serve as extensions of the hero’s psyche, enabling the audience to experience the lead character’s inner thoughts and feelings to a greater degree.
As the space is neither period-specific nor radically modern, the costumes echo the aesthetics of both, with silk neckerchiefs and braces replacing the traditional cravats and corsets. Sarah Beaton’s stage design, however, is the ultimate show-stealer. The set, an artist’s studio with its rugged, paint-stripped walls, ancient piano and upholstered fainting couch, presents itself as a cinematic frame above all else, gothic in style and a marvel to watch.
Noteworthy mentions go to Fowler and Goode, who convey plausible performances as subject and painter, with the latter’s authenticity serving a constant reminder as to how far removed the Dorian Gray portrayed by the former has become from the innocent young man he used to be.
Photo: Craig Sugden
The Picture of Dorian Gray is at Richmond Theatre from 23rd April until 27th April 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.