Dorian Gray was a much anticipated production by The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre based on the infamous philosophical novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, written by the Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde.
The group had a difficult task of shortening the highly prestigious novel into a short 55-minute performance, but they handle this well, managing to include all the critical events in the novel. The play begins with a conversation between the artist, Basil Hallward, the aristocrat, Lord Henry Wotton, and Dorian Gray, a wealthy bachelor. Basil explains how he drew a portrait of Dorian, of which Gray explains he envies as it will remain young as he grows old.
Jasper Worrallo (playing Dorian Gray) successfully illustrates the gradual progression Wilde writes about in his novel of Gray descending from an approachable, kind man at the beginning of the story, into a selfish and arrogant figure of himself.
Throughout the performance, Dorian’s portrait stands upstage middle, and gradually becomes covered by black puzzle pieces as the play progresses. Wilde uses a similar approach in his novel, as the portrait depicts Gray’s face gradually aging, whilst he remains visibly young in real life. Both Wilde’s original technique and that used in the production are effective, depicting how hedonism and overindulgence takes over Gray’s life, whilst the portrait illustrates the consequence of his actions, his soul and reputation gradually deteriorating.
The ending of the piece is highly stylised, as the whole cast gathers round Dorian and repeatedly reciting Dorian’s words at the beginning of the play, explaining how he never wanted to grow old. This is an effective ending, reminding the audience that Gray initially wished for eternal youth, when really, this eternal youth plagues his everyday.
Although the performance effectively portrays the overall crucial message Wilde portrayed in his novel, the acting for a selected few performers was nothing short of mediocre. There were many scenes in which Aidan MacFarlane in particular (Lord Henry Wotton) rushed and forgot his lines, failing to stay in character. Additionally, many of the characters’ exits before and during blackouts throughout the play are clumsy, loud and unprofessional, disrupting the fluidity of the piece, and mean that the audience’s immersion is broken.
If the actors rigidly stayed in character for the whole performance, even during blackouts, the production has potential to be five-star. It is a shame that this is not the case, given the excellent source material.
A Picture of Dorian Gray was on at theSpace on the Mile
Run ended 23rd August
Image: The Georgian Theatre Royal Youth Theatre