The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde’s stunning way with words in his classic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, makes it a challenging piece to bring to the stage. Unfortunately, in their own musical rendition, Pregnant Fish Theatre fails to capture the elegance of this book. Although there were some funny moments and decent acting, the poor singing and the awful stage location led this play to being nothing more than a disappointment.

It’s such a shame to see this gothic classic so poorly realised in the theatre.

The supporting characters here are the main positives of this play, with some witty pieces of acting and clever lines. The interpretation of the portrait and the portrayal of Dorian’s madness are also done nicely. Unfortunately, the play’s good points stop there, with the staging ruining the ability to enjoy the play.

Being in the basement of a bar, the lighting is incredibly poor, and there are constant disturbances from outside – either music from other rooms or applause and laughter from the neighbouring show – that interrupt the play’s progress. Though the actors were excellent at staying in character, the noise often carried over some of the more intimate lines, either ruining the moment or rendering it so that those at the back had no way of hearing.

What could be heard were the songs that randomly interrupted the play. Although the live backing guitar was an elegant touch (there could have been more), the rest of the music was definitely unneeded. The songs always seemed irrelevant and unnecessary, and were made even worse by the mediocre singing that came from every actor.

It’s sad that so much of what made this show bad wasn’t necessarily the fault of the production company. The needless bursts of singing, mediocre voices and shoddy staging also sincerely reduced the quality of this show, enough so that even the witty moments and interesting concepts couldn’t save it. It’s such a shame to see this gothic classic so poorly realised in the theatre.

Reviews by Megan Atkins

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★★★★
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

In a distorted, demonic city of sordid sinners, Dorian’s looks can get him anywhere. Then the boundaries between art and life start to merge. As his infamy grows, a trail of sorrow lies in his wake. There’s a secret hidden in Dorian’s attic, and a horrible truth behind the perfect boy’s face. Coinciding with the book’s 125th anniversary, this unique, intimate take sees Oscar Wilde’s Gothic horror interwoven with live music and stylized movement. Pregnant Fish Theatre’s contemporary adaptation has been described as ‘precisely what theatre should try to be’ (Christopher Fear, 2012).