When Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1890, the reaction of the general public was one of shock and horror. Some even referring to the novel as something that would “taint every young mind that comes into contact with it”, a reputation that only grew after it’s usage as evidence in the 1895 trial wherein it’s author was convicted for two years due to crimes of ‘sodomy’.

While attitudes have changed with the passing of time, and even though such rigid Victorian standards for expression and behaviour no longer apply, The Picture of Dorian Gray continues to shock. The complex yet compelling narrative weaved by Wilde of corruption, sin and the senses is a timeless theme, more relevant than ever in our modern era where pleasure can be bought at the press of a button.

The Churchill Bromley’s take on this classic is both abstract, and modernist in it’s usage of fading and fractured glass to represent the ever-present consciousness represented within the painting. Traditionalist in the usage of a Victorian colour scheme and era-ambiguous costuming. The adaptations made to the novel, such as gender swapping several characters, did little to impact the storyline or change the nature of the play, instead modernising Wilde’s novel to further suit current times elegantly.

The usage of one set throughout the production as several different locations creates a sense of confinement, the decaying nature shown through it’s peeling paint foreshadowing the corruption to come. A motif repeated all the way down to the subtle, minor props on stage, such as the fresh flowers given to Sibyl by Dorian at the beginning replaced by wilted dead ones in the second act to symbolise her innocent death. Which, when combined with the smooth lighting transitions and immersive use of heavy rain sound effects (an appropriate usage of pathetic fallacy) Gave every scene dramatic effect despite the little difference in backdrop.

Gavin Fowler, in the titular role of Dorian Gray, conveyed his slow descent into amorality excellently, particularly towards the end of the play when he became almost unrecognisable in when compared to the innocent man seen just a few hours before.

Basil, played by Daniel Goode, was equally compelling, whilst a significantly more lovable character. My personal favourite was Jonathan Wrather as Lord Henry, who I found to be the real star of the show, his acting was both accurate enough to create a sense of amused despair towards his actions, and equally enthralling. The difference in character displayed between the first and second half of the show didn't just highlight how aged Henry, and by extension the rest of the cast, had become in comparison to Dorian. (Emphasising the passage of time brilliantly.)

In conclusion I would like to thank Anna for recommending this production to me and wish Tilted Wig Productions the best of luck as the carry on their nationwide tour of the production.