The Picture of Dorian Gray

Updated: Aug 3

Henry Filloux-Bennett, based on the novel by Oscar Wilde

Streamed performance co-produced by Theatr Clwyd and Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

March 16-31, 2021; run time 90min

Fionn Whitehead in The Picture of Dorian Gray.  All pics:  company
Fionn Whitehead in The Picture of Dorian Gray. All pics: company

This is theatre in the time of Covid, a performance produced and accessed for online viewing.

A combination of technology and creative camerawork, and a dramatic structure based on retrospective interviews with the various protagonists, produces intimacy and pace. This digital take on the Oscar Wilde Faustian novel explores the themes of obsessive, narcissistic love transposed to a contemporary Britain in which social media is the currency of communication for the Millennium generation.

The story charts the triangular relationship between Dorian Gray (Fionn Whitehead) and his two admirers, Harry Wotton (Alfred Enoch) and Basil Hallward (Russell Tovey). This, together with a brief affair between Dorian and Sibyl Vane (Emma McDonald), ends tragically.

The story is given powerful contemporary currency with an exploration of concerns about the negative effects of social media on the mental health of young people. The digital image of Dorian is adjusted by IT expert Basil to preserve the youthful image of the 21 year old forever on screen. This transforms Dorian, the studious Eng.Lit. student into Dorian the confident, online social influencer with thousands of followers. As his digital fame grows, so his personal life deteriorates ending, like his girlfriend Sibyl, in death.

Lady Narborough (Joanna Lumley) epitomises the social mores that fuels the drama’s self-obsessive behaviour, while The Interviewer (Stephen Fry) nudges the story along. All the cast give strong performances but the real stars of this performance have to be the technical crew, who make it all happen.

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