Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray, secret location

River Hawkins (Dorian Gray) The Alchemic Order 1

River Hawkins (Dorian Gray) The Alchemic Order 1 - Credit: Archant

Behind a big black inconspicuous looking door in South London lies an immersive world of surprise and temptation, idolisation and influence. Take That’s Jason Orange’s brother, Samuel Orange, marks his directorial debut with an exciting twist on a classic tale.

For those unfamiliar, Dorian Gray is a young gentleman of unnerving natural beauty. One day, enamoured painter Basil Hallward paints a portrait of his muse.

So enraptured is Dorian with the results, he resents the product immediately, loathing its eternal youth. He declares a desire to swap places with the painting, so that the portrait ages and grows old whilst he retains his bewitching wrinkle-free maturity.

In using Oscar Wilde’s celebrated novel of the ultimate Faustian pact, Orange has rested on the familiar in order to conjure an evening of startling invention. As a theatre-goer, there is no requirement to be harnessed at a chair. The drama moves around the house and you are invited to embrace the movement that the presentation affords. The biggest fear would be that this exercise in gimmickry is at the cost of the text. Thankfully, the wonderfully sardonic dialogue is kept in place as much as possible.

If there is any awkwardness over the interactive element of the experience, this is a consequence of acclimatisation. It is initial and fleeting. A small criticism falls on the few moments where the scene changes could be a tiny bit quicker and less clunky, however.

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Ultimately, credit is given for the imagination and respect – a difficult tightrope for anyone – that has been paid here. It is a labour of love that translates, resonates and showcases an impeccably high standard of acting. More than a theatre experience. More than a good night out. An evening of the sort of gluttonous pleasure that Lord Henry would have heartily encouraged.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is at Dorian Gray’s Town House (exact address revealed upon booking) until September 28 2013.

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