Oscar Wilde’s only novel has prompted some vivid theatrical realisations in recent years. Sadly, this European Arts Company adaptation, co-written by Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland, is not one of them.
The central idea of Dorian Gray’s pact with fate – that his painted portrait should age and corrupt while he remains young and beautiful – distils in a single image much of the self-destructive impulses of Wilde himself. This production never captures the excitement of that parallel.
What we get is a rather old-fashioned plod through the narrative in the first part, hampered by too many scene changes. In the second half, as Dorian descends into corruption, we are too often told what he did to earn his reputation rather than shown it.
Guy Warren-Thomas as Dorian begins well enough as the young Adonis but is hampered by some clunky soliloquies and has to contend with some unconvincing dramatic reveals of how the portrait in the attic is doing.
But in the end, he is never believable as the essence of depravity.