When The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde’s Gothic story of a beautiful young man’s moral corruption and eventual destruction – was released in 1890, it caused such controversy that WH Smiths took the decision to remove the publication from all of its railway-station newsstands.
A mere 131 years later, there is a new adaptation of the classic story ready to be unveiled next month.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, produced by the Barn Theatre, Lawrence Batley Theatre, New Wolsey Theatre, Oxford Playhouse & Theatr Clwyd, will be a contemporary retelling of Wilde’s morality tale. In the novel, the title character is an innocent but narcissistic young man who is seduced by the hedonistic world suggested to him by his cynical friend, Lord Harry Wotton.
Writer Henry Filloux-Bennett reframes the story to a contemporary setting where Dorian Gray is a young influencer who is seduced by the image-fixated worlds of Instagram, Facebook and dating apps and makes a Faustian deal to ensure that his social star will always burn brightly, regardless of the consequences.
The novel’s painting transformation from an object of beauty to a vile record of guilt suggests an intriguing present-day parallel as Dorian’s profile picture may reflect his deteriorating mental health as a result of his pact with fame.
"...Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars"
The makers of the digital production, The Picture of Dorian Gray, have put together an impressive, star-studied cast.
Fionn Whitehead plays Dorian Gray
Fionn is probably best known as Tommy, the lead in the multi-Oscar-winning film Dunkirk.
You also may have messed him up as the young computer programmer in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch where you had control of many of the decisions his character had to take.
Russell Tovey plays Basil Hallward
Russell has made a career playing incredibly diverse roles: from Rudge in The History Boys to the heroic Midshipman Frame in Doctor Who, from likeable werewolf George in Being Human to the almost horizontally laid-back Steve in Him & Her and most recently in Russell T Davies’ Years and Years.
Emma McDonald plays Sibyl Vane
Emma’s theatre credits include The Sweet Science of Bruising (Wilton’s Music Hall), Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Watermill Theatre) as well as appearing in the film, Get Luke Lowe.
Joanna Lumley plays Lady Narborough
Joanna is one of The Recs’ favourite actresses – as you will know from our recent article “Everyone Loves Joanna Lumley” (click here if you’ve not read it yet).
We look forward to seeing Joanna in this new role!
Alfred Enoch plays Harry Wotton
You might know Alfred from playing Bainbridge, the Bloody Guardsman, in the Sherlock episode ‘The Sign of Three’ or as Corporal Jamie McCain in the second series of Trust Me but is perhaps best known for playing Dean Thomas across all eight films in the Harry Potter series.
Stephen Fry plays The Interviewer
Adored national treasure has acted in It’s A Sin, Doctor Who, Kingdom, Gosford Park, Jeeves and Wooster, BlackAdder II, The Third and Goes Forth, Peter’s Friends, This Is David Lander, A Fish Called Wanda and perhaps most relevant here, in the 1997 film Wilde as the writer himself.
Director Tamara Harvey paid tribute to her impressive cast: “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 genuinely lovely people, which has made the making of this piece a joy.”
How To Watch
The digital production of The Picture of Dorian Gray will be available to stream internationally. Tickets (for a 48-hour screening link) are available to pre-order now from the production’s website – Pictureofdoriangray.com
Like its brilliant predecessor What A Carve Up which was such a creative spark during the second lockdown, we expect demand for tickets to be high so make sure you book soon to avoid disappointment.
The Recs will bring you any updates that we find.