The Extraordinary Cabaret of Dorian Gray

Despite its clever interweaving of theatrical elements and its sumptuous and satisfyingly dark content, the production fails to convey dramatic tension.

While incense sticks, red velvet curtains, finely crafted Victorian costumes and Commedia dell’Arte masks succeed in transforming the small basement theatre in Leicester Square into a sensory mosaic, the performance itself falls short of dramatic tension in front of its sensitized audience.

Ruby in the Dust’s re-staging of Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, follows Dorian’s character in his shift from a shy and vulnerable young man to a veritable Narcissus figure. We watch his downfall unfold amid songs of love and murder as Dorian becomes increasingly trapped in high society by the likes of his tempter, Lord Henry; by Basil Hallward, the portrait artist consumed by Dorian’s beauty; and by his lover, actress Sibyl Vane.

The show uses cabaret elements to drive the plot and enhance dramatic action and there are some fine performances from the six-strong cast. Cabaret artist Tamsin Shasha radiates with raunchy stage presence, and Kate Colebrook works well as Sybil and Leaf, as does Henry Maynard as Lord Henry himself. Recurring visual motifs are woven into the scenes, most notably the frame of Dorian’s portrait, which serves as a lens through which we scrutinize parts of the performance. The live musical sequences are wonderfully atmospheric and thoroughly enjoyable; so much so that they upstage the recorded sound which feels distracting and inappropriate by comparison.

Our relationship with Dorian, however, remains underdeveloped. It is only in the final scene that we begin to understand whence the social pressures that drive Dorian to such vanity emerge. It is a moment in which we are hopeful and aware of the tragedy at the same time. Yet throughout the evening we follow a different character with every scene, a different perspective in every moment. As a result, the directing becomes too concerned with atmospherics, with adjectives, not focused enough on the story, the action.

Despite its clever interweaving of theatrical elements and its sumptuous and satisfyingly dark content, the production fails to convey dramatic tension. It is a great exercise in atmosphere, but an adaptation with too little concern for its story.

Comments

No comments yet. Add your own »

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to this posts comments via RSS »

Comment Guidelines: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Spam and defamatory remarks will be removed. Please be fair and respect other people's opinions.

Email addresses will never be published.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

← Previous post
Jack Pratchard
Next post →
Borges and I

Info and Credits

The Extraordinary Cabaret of Dorian Grey is on at the Leicester Square theatre until the 18th of April 2010.

For more information and to book tickets visit the Leicester Square Theatre website.

Recent posts by Diana Damian

Recent Reviews

Sort posts by

TheatreinPictures


Theatre in Pictures »

Resources

Practical theatre links, scholarly resources, maps, podcasts, cheap tickets & more.
See resource page »

Recent Comments

  • I have had groups do some of my plays in Second Life and I helped but together a...

    Doug
    Theatre In Second Life

  • Tinker Bell as a fire ball? that sounds awesome… there so many re-makes of Peter Pan (like the...

    Grace L
    Peter Pan

  • Wow I'm sure that see the performance of Kate Duchene this character is totally extraordinary! I am...

    Andy
    Henry VIII

  • Thank you for an excellent weblog !! I discovered some useful information and will suggest...

    fotokopi
    Henry IV, part 1

  • I used Facebook to advertise a fringe show I...

    Jamie Honeybourne
    A Practical Guide to Theatre and the Web: Facebook