A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Neil Bartlett.

Abbey Theatre, 26 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1. To 17 November.
7.30 pm. Saturday Matinee 2 pm. Sign Language interpreted performance, 8 November. Captioned Performance, 10 November.
Runs 165 mins, one interval.
Tickets: 00 3531 8787 222 www.abbeytheatre.ie

Review: Michael Paye 12 October 2012.

Dorian Gray fails to allure.

We all know the story. The young, innocent, beautiful Dorian Gray, played by Tom Canton, is seduced by hedonism in the cause of everlasting beauty, and is cursed to remain young and beautiful while his portrait becomes a hideous reflection of his soul. Such a tale could conceivably make a wonderful theatre piece. Unfortunately, Neil Bartlett’s vision sells it short. The portrait itself is revealed as a black canvas and a laugh track tells the audience who the joke is on. However, such a device is not meta-textual (as it contributes nothing to the performance), nor is it in any way striking; it is, in fact, as irritating as the buzzer which Francis, his valet, continually presses, another technique which falls flat.

The chorus often repeats lines throughout the performance, as a spiteful sort of conscience on the part of Dorian. Yet this device is taken to a level of absurdity when, as Dorian struggles with the loss of his soul, the chorus close in around him, saying the “Our Father” prayer, a heavy handed device. Though Bartlett has every right to manipulate the text into a performance which he feels will entertain and challenge a contemporary audience, there is also a responsibility on his part to tie the performance together in a way which is both entertaining and thought-provoking, which Dorian Gray is not.

On the plus side, Dorian’s hideous manifestation in his final moments is striking, and at the beginning of the second act, Canton’s open waistcoat and bare chest solicited a few cat-calls and wolf whistles from the audience which injected some much needed life into the performance. Unfortunately, a large section of the audience literally gasped when Lord Henry kissed Dorian: they should remember what century we are in.

Jane Brennan: Lady Henry Wotton
Jasper Britton: Lord Henry Wotton
Gerard Byrne: Francis
Tom Canton: Dorian Gray
Susannah de Wrixon: Lady Narborough/ Limehouse Madam
Aaron Heffernan: Victor
Bob Kelly: James Vane
Emmet Kirwan: Footman 1
Andrew Macklin: Alan Campbell
Charlotte McCurry: Sybil Vane/Lady Monmouth
Frank McCusker: Basil
Lise Ann McLaughlin: Lady Agatha Carlisle
Bairbre Ní Chaoimh: Mrs Erlynne/ Limehouse Prostitute
Kate O’Toole: Mrs Leaf/ Mrs Vane
Ben Plunkett Reynolds: Ensemble
Michael Sheehan: Footman 2
Ali White: Lady Ruxton/ Limehouse Prostitute

Director: Neil Bartlett
Set & Costume design: Kandis Cook
Lighting design: Chris Davey
Sound design: Ivan Birthistle &Vincent Doherty
Additional staging: Paul Kieve
Fight director: Donal O’ Farrell

2012-10-15 21:29:58

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