Transported in the atmosphere of a Victorian theater by a charismatic theater director (Fenton Gray), the intimacy of Riverside Studios gives the audience the opportunity to get carried away in time and space.
The beautiful song of a dying Juliet (Alma Fournier-Carballo) is like the siren call that catch us taking us, with a presentation that resembles almost the beginning of Moulin Rouge by Baz Luhrmann, in a new story made of secrets, because each of us has at least one.
In Dorian Gray by Linnie Reedman, it’s definitely the amazing music by Joe Evans to make the representation truly magical; but the great cast ( that too much advertising about the two main characters dynastic lineage , threatened to overshadow their talent) makes it all more enjoyable.
Jack Fox (Mr Selfridge, Dracula) as Dorian Gray is terrific in his stage debut; in his cream-coloured three-piece suit he is the Prince Charming. Every shade in Dorian’s nature are clearly evident from his acting. But, even more striking, are the emotions that Jack reveals at the end of the show, almost as if they were a silent liberating scream.
Daisy Bevan as Siby Vane and Leaf, is wonderful in her stage debut too and surely this, we are sure, it is definitely the first step towards a fulfilling career.
Anthony Jardine (Strangers on a Train) as Basil Hallward is a kind dreamer. If the customs of Dorian Grey and Lord Henry underline their personality, those of Basil pass almost unnoticed, as anonymous, after all, he is to Lord Henry; but especially to Dorian. A man out of place, an accessory which not miss after his death.
His opposite, Joe Wredden ( The Musketeers, The Son of God and soon on ITV with The Great Fire alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is able to cast significant doubt upon the interpretation of Colin Firth (Dorian Gray, 2009) as Lord Henry.
If a very marked performance in the acting of Shelley Lang (Inception, River City) as Lady Henry appears in some scenes a little out of place, that of Fenton Gray (Cats) as Mr. Isaacs is the icing on the cake to give a distinctive and decisive touch to the show. His long career in the opera world is clear, not only when he plays the flute or the piano on stage, but in every movement, almost like a Madame Batterfly male.
Last but not least, Alma Fournier-Carballo (Her Naked Skin) from the musical world, with her voice, is one of the pillars of the show.
The set design by Katherine Heath is clever and simple; the painting is an empty frame in which we see Dorian just two times: in the first seconds of the play when we see Dorian with a white shirt stained with blood and in the end when we see the picture resume his true nature. Low lights in the corner, sinister music and wonderful sound effects as in the scene where Dorian is at his desk, writing his diary after Siby’s death and we can hear, in the background, their argument with sinister voices in Dorian’s mind.
The intensity of Oscar Wilde‘s message does not get lost in screenplay with great humor with Wilde’s aphorisms delivered with relish by Lord Henry.
Unfortunately, there is a strong imbalance between the two acts. The first act, which lasts 60 minutes, has the right rhythm to do justice to the literary work. But the second, lasting 35 minutes, runs too fast towards the end, leaving too much behind but especially accelerating the narrative pace and bringing precipitously at the end, preventing the audience to immerse themselves in what is the tragic finale.
Despite this minor flaw, Dorian Gray is a great show that should definitely be seen.
At Riverside Studios until May 10th.
Head photo by Roy Tan.
“He is in every curve, line, color, sound, loveliness…Dorian Gray is my heart”.