Pros: Excellent cast, script and direction.
Cons: Some scenes are explicitly sexual, which may not be to some viewer’s tastes.
The Corruption of Dorian Gray proves to be an extremely strong addition to the many reproductions of Oscar Wilde’s work exploring the beauty and ugliness of human nature and desire. The play recounts Gray’s descent into evil in the irresistibly debauched backstreets of London while also shining more light on the homoerotic undercurrents that were only hinted at in the original work. There is little to fault in the entirety of the production, with both believable performances and well-paced narrative that shows the development of the characters with effective build up of tension. All of that is achieved by boasting a fluid script, wittily sarcastic and scathing, which is only what you’d expect from a piece inspired by Wilde.
‘It is not good for one’s morals to see bad acting’ is just one of Wilde’s witty truths, and it is safe to say that no one’s morals, except the infamous Dorian Gray’s, will be harmed in seeing this play. The complex character of Gray is wonderfully brought to life by Michael Batten who portrays the role with confidence and grace and a great deal of emotion, and gives a very commanding performance as the disturbing Adonis. Alongside him there are really no faults either with Will Harrison Wallace seeming comfortable in the role of verbosely persuasive Henry Wooton and Loz Keystone as the faithful and ill-fated Basil. The scenes that proved to be most memorable were those in which all the cast are involved, from busy parties spiking the piece with comedy to the oddly mesmerising masked sex scenes that manage to be shocking, sexy and tasteful at the same time.
The show is pulled together under masterful direction by Simon James Collier, who allows each scene to melt into one another seamlessly. This makes for a very smooth, stylish production that suffers none of the glitches that often plague small venues, and allows the performances to come off as naturally as they did. Not having to incorporate complex scene changes means there is nothing to distract the actors or the audience from the story, enabling the cast to really give their all to their roles.
While the show is a good two hours long, it is captivating throughout and justifies its length by showing the rise and fall of each of the characters in full. Raunchy, sinister, and at times grotesque, The Corruption of Dorian Gray is pitch perfect in its approach, and a real joy to see.
Author: Oscar Wilde
Adaptation: Adam Dechanel and Simon James Collier
Director: Simon James Collier
Booking Link: http://www.lionandunicorntheatre.com/doriangray.php
Box Office: 0844 477 1000
Booking Until: 12 July 2014