Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY
Monday 18th January – Saturday 13th February 2016
Sin is a thing which writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.
2016 marks the 125th anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s only novel and now The Picture of Dorian Gray has been freshly adapted by Merlin Holland, Wilde’s only grandson, and John O’Connor of European Arts Company.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a story that most people feel they know without ever having read. On its first publication, a storm of protest was unleashed from British critics who described it as ‘a poisonous book’ written ‘for outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys’. Here, Holland and O’Connor have reverted to Wilde’s original manuscript, reinstating some of the key lines that were censored. These sections make more explicit the homoerotic themes of the story and, ‘clarify Basil Hallward’s character, lost in hopeless and helpless adoration of Dorian Gray, and make Dorian’s knowing manipulation of Basil all the more calculated and shocking’ (British Theatre).
Through access to the original manuscript, Holland and O’Connor have produced the version of Dorian Gray that Wilde always intended us to see.
Holland comments, In adapting my grandfather’s only novel for the stage, John O’Connor and I have reintroduced a few of those suppressions from the magazine as well as others from the original manuscript, in order to reflect Oscar’s original intentions. These passages, significant as they are, will be largely unknown to the general public, who read the novel today as published in its book-length version. Unfortunately the fall-out from Dorian Gray was to haunt its author. Despite assuring Oscar Wilde’s posthumous reputation throughout the world, it is a sobering thought that The Picture of Dorian Gray should have contributed, even marginally, to putting my grandfather behind bars 120 years ago.
Set in the decadent world of Victorian London, a beautiful young man – Dorian Gray – becomes infatuated by the exquisite portrait that Basil Hallward has painted of him. He makes a Faustian pact that he will remain forever young while the picture grows old. Dorian Gray is a cultural myth that has become more potent with time and the pressure to stay forever young and beautiful is even more resonant in the 21st century.
The cast comprises Guy Warren-Thomas (Little Pieces of Gold, Park Theatre; The Cave, Blue Elephant Theatre; Downton Abbey, ITV), Rupert Mason (The Trials of Oscar Wilde, Trafalgar Studios; The Madness of George Dubya, West End; The Tempest, RSC), and Helen Keeley (The Importance of Being Earnest, London Classic Theatre; To The End, Southwark Playhouse; Summer Days Dream, Finborough Theatre). The Picture of Dorian Gray at Trafalgar Studios is directed by Peter Craze (Doctor Who; Blake’s Seven).
This gripping new production brings fresh insight to a work that many think they know but few understand.
European Arts Company is a national and international touring theatre company based at the Hazlitt Theatre in Kent. For the past 13 years, they have been touring classic plays all over the UK, Ireland, Germany, Greece and Italy. They are well-known for the critically-acclaimed UK Tour and West End run of The Trials of Oscar Wilde.
★★★★ Bon mots and barefaced lies. A beguiling Wilde in a smart play that reveals the establishment at its worst (The Observer).