To be honest I have not seen such a stunning piece of theatre in a while.
The quality, honesty in delivery and the beautiful design really struck a cord with me.
I have compiled my thoughts a bit and here they are:
The Picture of Dorian Gray is exactly why I go to theatre: thought provoking, aesthetically inspiring, and beautifully scripted with acting & directing to boot. I was thrilled to experience this production for many reasons and I am going to try to do it justice in the following.
Neil Bartlett has done a superb job in adapting and directing Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray which was no easy task. He took the most critical elements and stayed true to the original but not without bringing a real sense of theatricality to it. One piece of evidence, through Kandis’ set design, microphones poignantly reminded the viewers of important truths. This honoured the intentions of the story and characters while keeping the modern day audience in mind. In addition the Greek chorus provoked and encouraged the resonating themes through out the play by reinforcing the audience’s attentions to the illusions and the inner voice of the characters.
Not only was the directing on queue but Kandis Cooke’s set & costume design gave such clarity and really exposed the play. With the stage striped back to the brick wall it was spar but illustrious as only the useful was on stage and every article revealed a part of the story. The conceptual stage within a stage and the fourth wall, at times, broken, was successful in setting the intention to communicate directly with the audience. The costumes led us through the years but they also described each character in detail, so they didn’t even need to open their mouths to speak and we knew their purpose. The aesthetic beauty in the design was in the rich textures and gold’s contrasting with the barren black while the creative use of historical costumes with theatrical liberty brought an extra element of ingenuity. In fact I was so excited about the design I emailed Kandis Cooke to congratulate her personally, I would absolutely love to assist her on a future production.
My favourite performance by far was Jasper Britton’s Lord Henry. At first entrance of Lord Henry Wotton I was immediately nervous for his role in ruining Dorian Gray, and truly felt for Basil in his despair of loosing his pure love to Henry. Though Basil at first had my heart, as the play moved forward I fell deeper and deeper in love with Jasper Britton’s captivating delivery of Lord Henry. In fact, I started to root for his motives and secretly look forward to his every scene. He gave a stunning performance of the entire being of Henry. From his descent into old age to his eloquence in speech, he was brilliant.
One point on which I wasn't as connected was Tom Canton's, Dorian Gray. Although well acted, I would have liked to see a greater development, a greater build in character from his innocence into his destruction and the inner turmoil he wrestled with. Sometimes I felt his rise and falls were too fast, there wasn't enough substance and I couldn't connect. I would have liked to see a bit more discovery in the character. All in all however I did enjoy his performance and this wasn't a huge distraction, I just wasn't as committed to belief as I would have hoped.
I really feel strongly in theatre's ability to heal, build bridges and create conversation in the community. Theatre should encourage an audience to think and Neil Bartlett’s adaptation did just that. Guaranteeing the audience was aware but not forcing the concepts of; our personal illusions, homosexual shame and the relationships art creates between us all. This I think was the greatest success, having a production that pleased all the senses but provoked thought and conversation. Well done to the Abbey for commissioning such a pleasurable production.
I am originally from Vancouver, Canada but I made the big move to Ireland in September 2012. I work in a design & buying office called Styletex and want to work towards a career in Buying. My degree is in Costume Design which is my first love but my heart is also in production design, theatre, fashion, history, culture and style. I love seeing the world and I may have a small obsession with weddings and bridal fashion- so visit my other blog: http://unveilthis.blogspot.com to see that side of me.