Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a tale ingrained in our cultural consciousness. It is 125 years since Wilde’s decadent satire was first published. In that time the story has been adapted into films, television dramas, plays, operas and musicals. Whatever the form, Wilde’s tale is always deeply compelling, thanks to its tantalising plot and Wilde’s wit. But can any adaptation of such a well-known story truly seem fresh? Incognito Theatre certainly think so.

As the eponymous Dorian, George John conveys his character’s disturbing fall from grace, his fresh-faced youth making the story all the more convincing.

Born of Young Pleasance, the dynamic offshoot of Pleasance Theatre, Incognito consists of five talented young actors who use elements of physical theatre and traditional drama to create entertaining and unique productions. Following a sell-out debut at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Incognito has returned in 2015 with a stylish, highly enjoyable take on Dorian Gray.

Five actors, dressed to the nines in dinner jackets, play all the roles. When the main action requires only two actors to participate, the remainder of the company unite as an immoral Greek Chorus, commenting on the action and creating a sense of a gossipy world where everything is commodified.

This atmosphere is enhanced by the group’s use of physical theatre. The actors wield wooden frames to create striking onstage tableaus, representing vanity and voyeurism. When appropriate, these frames are also used as props. The group pulls this feat off with wonderful effect.

The acting is of a similarly high standard. Angus Castle-Doughty brings pathos and poignancy to the role of Basil Halward, the painter who dotes on Dorian and provides the moral backbone to the story. Charlie McVicar revels in the role of devious and wily Lord Henry, delivering some of the production’s best lines. As the eponymous Dorian, George John conveys his character’s disturbing fall from grace, his fresh-faced youth making the story all the more convincing. Alex Maxwell is also strong in the role of Dorian’s doomed love interest Sibyl Vane. In fact, all five actors are talents to watch out for in the future. Credit must also go to director Anna Simpson, whose vision is behind this production.

Reviews by Francesca Street

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In a desperate bid to maintain his youthful beauty, and experience all the pleasures the world has to offer, Dorian sells his soul, setting himself on a path of lavish debauchery and secret sin from which there may be no coming back… Following their sell-out 2014 debut, Incognito return to the Fringe to conjure a darkly satirical and physically playful take on Wilde’s gothic fable. 125 years after first scandalising the world, this new adaptation questions our obsessive modern idolisation of youth and beauty. ‘Spectacular…one of the most exciting productions of the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival’ (Huffington Post).