The Picture of Dorian Gray @ The Tabard

Gabriella La Rocca on Oscar Wilde's modernised masterpiece

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The Picture of Dorian Gray plays at The Tabard Theatre from Tuesday 21 October to Saturday 15 November 2008. Monday – Saturday 7.30pm, Matinees, Saturday 4.00pm

Tickets: £14 (£12 concessions) Youth groups (8 or more) £9

Book online at or 0844 847 2264

Tabard Theatre, 2 Bath Road, London W4 1LW

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‘The devil knows all the tunes,’ says Harry, a manipulative and conceited Wilde. He is a strong influence on a beautiful and innocent Dorian, who becomes Wilde’s corrupted voice. Then there’s Basil, Wilde as a man of aesthetics and morals; he’s the painter who made Dorian aware of his beauty and is the constant and balancing force between Harry and Dorian. He fails. This is Wilde’s only novel where the three characters explore three parts of the author’s personality.

Isn’t so tempting to go for all the tunes of the devil? Forget morals, they don’t mix with hedonism, and Basil pleads with Harry not to get close to Dorian. Instead Harry ignores him and teaches Dorian how to enjoy life by exploiting beauty and youth, and how he should make the most of it because they are only temporary. He tells him that he can have everything and everyone he wants, pleasure is all that matters, the soul and senses become one.

Dorian goes ahead and lives to Harry’s hedonistic ideas. He seeks fame, becomes a celebrity and driven only by mental and carnal pleasure enters the seedy world of London, causing scandal. Slave of his own pleasures Dorian does not want to lose his looks and wishes that Basil’s portrait grew old instead. He spirals out of control ruining the lives of those around him.

The writers of this musical adaptation produced by Kangaroo Court skilfully bring Dorian Gray into the 21st Century’s celebrity machine. Sybil played by Natalie Gray, a very talented drama student is the first victim of Dorian’s destructive mind, but she is also the perfect embodiment of today’s mediocre singers; their desire to become a celebrity induces them to promote themselves with videos packed with overexposed flesh verging on soft porn.

Wilde’s novel is transformed into a well performed musical focusing on Wilde’s thoughts on self indulgence, and although you see very little of Basil Hallward, the Wilde as spokesman of Aestheticism it does not distort Dorian Gray or Harry.

It is truly an enjoyable evening. The cast, fresh and talented, include Gary Richens as Harry, Chris Webster as Dorian Gray, and Nicholas Thompson as Basil. Ben Parson plays a young doctor afraid of his sexuality, the confident and talented chorus made up by Megan Pugh and David Templeman injects the audience with laughter.

Gabriella La Rocca

October 31, 2008