People can expect a completely new view on an Oscar Wilde classic, quite controversial in its time, at an independent theatre that’s been around for 72 years in a quaint old church dating back to1868.
The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Genesian Theatre has still very much got the same plot points and the same characters, but it is an original work that’s been workshopped from scratch to create an engaging production that people can relate to and think about for a long time. The play is adapted by Nathan Farrow, an Australian playwright/actor and his script is really something to behold.
“We’ve taken the themes, the motives and plot points used in the book and made it a bit more contemporary,” explained Stephen Lloyd-Coombs, the play’s director. “The theme of vanity plays on the question that beauty is only skin deep and if you look beneath the surface, what do we actually find? With Dorian Gray what we find is a person who’s swayed by the opinions of others, who takes on a lifestyle of hedonism that throws his friends and morality to the wayside as he becomes this creature, this monster that lurks beneath the surface.”
You really feel a connection and compassion for Baz (Richard Mason) and to Harry (Martin Portus) although he’s a more sinister character, he’s very charming and witty and Dorian himself (Michael Yore) comes across as a lovely young lad who’s led down the wrong path. The performers themselves accentuate these points in a delicate, clear and precise manner.
It’s a drama and a comedy (more so a drama because of all those morality questions), but with horrors and dark secrets. Oscar Wilde is well known for his wit and sharp jabs against society, and his characters have clever quips that make you think about what’s happening in society today. (MS)
Feb 6–Mar 19. Genesian Theatre, 420 Kent Street, Sydney. $25-$30. Tickets & info: genesiantheatre.com.au
BY MEL SOMERVILLE