Arts + Entertainment

Theatre Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

That decrepit, aged, dirty room where the action plays out in Tilted Wig Productions’ The Picture of Dorian Gray… it is something to behold. The set is a masterpiece, forming almost another character – it is another depiction of how a soul can become unloved, ugly, and abhorrent. It plays variously an artist’s studio, a seedy club, a hospital morgue, a Lord’s living room, and Dorian’s own home. And, just like the doomed soul, just like the titular picture, the walls and the furniture show just what can happen when greed, corruption, and – above all – vanity, creep slowly but surely into someone’s life. Those dark, dank, depressing walls are a bad life writ large for all to see.

credit: Craig Sugden

It is the set that puts the audience on edge from the start, but it’s not what keeps them there, at least, not entirely. Throughout the play, whether you know the story or not, there is an underlying sense of inevitability that all will not end well. With every new person (victim, in many senses) Dorian comes across, even when he is ‘trying to be good’, there is a tragedy waiting to unfold. We may not hear of it, but we know it happens. How can it not? Dorian taints everything he touches.

That’s the sadness that comes with The Picture of Dorian Gray. The eternal boy himself could have been so much more, so different, so happy. But fate and circumstances and a rash wish from someone who knew no better mean that there is a different path to follow, and that path spirals further and further down into the darkness. It seems that Dorian Gray who had everything to live for ends up stepping from one depravity to the next, one crime to the next, uncaring and cocksure because it is his painting (a painting he tells his friends he has fallen in love with) who has to live with the consequences and not him.

credit: Craig Sugden

This production of The Picture of Dorian Gray stars Gavin Fowler as the beautiful boy himself. He performs a stellar role, starting off as a shy, sweet young man who has no ideas of his own fortune, nor of his own looks and charm. Until, of course, the day when two older men – Lord Henry Wootton (Jonathan Wrather) and Basil Hallward (Daniel Goode) – flatter him to a point where, combined with the gorgeous portrait that Basil creates, he starts to see that not only could he be good, but he could also be bad and that being bad comes with all the excitement that he has been looking for.

As the play goes on we see all the characters change. Fear and shame catch up with Basil, age and tiredness come for Lord Henry, and Dorian… something else in is store for him.

You can catch The Picture of Dorian Gray at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley – book here 

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