The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, the Barn Theatre in Cirencester, the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield – the trio that created the acclaimed What a Carve Up! at the end of 2020 – were joined by Oxford Playhouse in Oxfordshire and Theatr Clwyd in Mold to co-produce this new digital adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s iconic novel and it dazzled with its brilliant line-up.
Following the first announcement that saw Dunkirk‘s Fionn Whitehead cast in the title role, our hero (or villain) was joined by Alfred Enoch (the Harry Potter franchise) as Harry Wotton, Joanna Lumley as Lady Narborough, Emma McDonald as Sibyl Vane, Russell Tovey as Basil Hallward, with Stephen Fry as the Interviewer.
The production was written by Henry Filloux-Bennett (of the Lawrence Batley) with direction by Tamara Harvey (Theatr Clwyd), set and costume design by Holly Pigott, assistant direction by Eleri Jones, Benjamin Collins as director of photography, sound design and original music by Harry Smith and original song by Jared Zeus.
Director Tamara Harvey said of the casting, “When trying to tell stories in Covid times, with very few resources and almost no time, the thing you need from your cast more even than talent is a spirit of collaboration, combined with patience, kindness and large doses of humour. Every member of our cast for Dorian Gray brought that and more. They are not only ridiculously talented but also – perhaps even more importantly – they’re all seriously good people, which has made the making of this piece a joy.”
The show was available online so audiences could watch from home after receiving a screening link with their booking and the show had closed captioning and audio description available. Education packs were also produced to be used across a range of curriculum areas, particularly shared with those studying Drama and Theatre, Performing Arts, Media and PSHE.
Dorian Gray was a hit, applauded with four- and five-star reviews that described the show’s ‘intelligent way to bring new resonances to the Victorian notion of the split self’ and ‘ingenious techniques in reimagining theatre on screen’ (The Guardian, four stars). Here’s what others thought of the dark but dazzling co-production:
★★★★★ ‘Demonstrates beyond a doubt the power of smaller regional theatres.’ (Theatre Weekly)
‘Hugely entertaining, wonderfully realized for a digital presentation that has the intimacy of theatre but with the flash visuals of a high-end TV drama.’ (East Anglian Daily Times)
‘The polished quality of the production itself… mesmerizes like a Twitter scroll.’ (The New York Times – Critic’s Pick)