Producing a decent adaptation of a great tale of gothic decadence on a shoestring budget is a big task, but Script in Hand went about it with gusto. Their version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was an enjoyable telling of the classic story of a man who never grows old and whose misdeeds are instead transferred to a painting hidden away from the world.
The production hinged on a confident, big performance from Sean Hutchings as Harry, the bon viveur who leads Dorian on his hedonistic adventures. Luke Seddon, as our eponymous antihero, was suitably beautiful for the part and seemed to enjoy having a good stab at the transformation from angel to monster. Some technical mishaps were handled well by the cast despite giggles from the audience.
Elements of physical theatre used to effectively ‘montage’ Dorian’s excesses were nicely done and helped to build a sensual atmosphere. Yet some of the most dramatic moments seemed a little rushed; Dorian’s big romances did not really have time to develop enough to be all that convincing, given the huge impact they were supposed to have on the plot.
Not being familiar with the book, a little research leads MADEUP to surmise Script in Hand’s adaptation took more from film versions of the classic tale than the book itself – presumably to create more female roles for cast members Zara Marie Brown and Jessica Corcoran. In the end Dorian, having fallen in love with Harry’s daughter and forced to kill her when she finds out his secret, is murdered by his old friend.
Jack Copper showed promise in multiple roles, including the portrait itself, which interacted with Dorian in a device just convincing enough to work. Joseph Mitchley’s Basil contrasted well with Seddon, as the artist in love with his subject. The seduction scene was certainly not uneasy on the eye, although I could have sworn I heard a pensioner tutting at the “dirty part”.
The tale was thrilling and there were enough interesting touches and watchable performances to make an enjoyable debut for this company.
The production was one that really brought out the best of the Actors Studio as a venue as well. Full to capacity, there was a fun, but not distracting atmosphere. Before the start, there was an apology as supplies for the interval were running quite low – but anyone who wanted to nip to Tesco was welcome. As the audience returned from the shop armed with cans of beer and sandwiches, it was more like a jolly coach trip than a trip to the theatre, but therein lay the charm.