Oscar Wilde’s classic tale of moral corruption and destructive selfishness is given a refreshing and highly stylistic make over by writer/director Ross Dinwiddy.
Set between the periods of the 1960’s up to the 00’s, Dinwiddy evokes a dark, visceral and almost movie noir feel to this tale of a young man who wants to remain youthful whilst his portrait disintegrates as his corrupt and ego centric personality destroys everyone and everything that lies in his path.
Gray finely played here by Maximus Polling, inhibits and dominates the dark world surrounding him and the excellent use of black and white photography really gives the production an almost malevolent feel about it.
Dinwiddy’s witty and razor script gives each actor the space to create a rich and dark characterisation and he makes us see that in actual fact all Wilde’s characters are harmed, vulnerable and corrupt in their own way.
Polling successfully holds your attention throughout starting as a generally nice person then suddenly turning during the course of the play into the monster that we all know he really is.
Selling your soul for eternal youth comes at a terrible price – as we all know!
Kace Monney offers a solid and thoughtfully balanced performance as his friend Harry who gleefully manipulates everyone around him whilst Tara Clark is outstanding as the tragic Sybil Vane who is reaching for stardom while trying to cope with her addictions and her blind, misjudged passion for Dorian.
Heather Alexander is great fun as the poisonous Mavis Ruxton, a social butterfly and media celebrity who enjoys the pain of others. Tom Taplin gives a rounded and nuanced performance as the “put upon” Alan Campbell who is completely transfixed by Dorian’s so called “beauty” and ultimately pays the price for his delusional loyalty.
For me, the stand out performance in Dinwiddy’s production came from Christopher Sherwood as the tragic artist Basil Hallward. Like most of the other characters he is totally beguiled (and besotted) by Dorian’s beauty but he doesn’t really recognise or even comprehend the monster that lurks within until its way too late.
Out of all the productions of Dorian Gray that I’ve seen over the years, this was by far the most accomplished portrayal of the tormented Hallward and all credit to the script and the director.
His performance is exceptional throughout and the scenes between Basil and Dorian are both chilling and morbidly significant.
Mentions also must go to the excellent camera work from Adam Fox & Cassius Kane and the rolling soundscape by Kelsey Rushworth – both complimenting each other.
The Tragedy of Dorian Gray is dark, rich and multi layered – definitely one to savour.
Online 28th May – 27th June 2021 via https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/the-tragedy-of-dorian-gray-143723/
Reviewer: Kiefer Williams
Reviewed: 4th June 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★
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