The Picture of Dorian Gray

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Created by the same team behind the recent reimagining of Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up! which quickly became a standout piece of 2020, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an impressive retelling of Oscar Wilde’s famously tragic tale.

In this modern take, gone is the classic portrait in favour of the ultimate smartphone filter, wholly irresistible to wannabee influencer, Dorian Gray; whose obsession with social media adoration becomes his all-consuming downfall.

Writer Henry Filloux-Bennett’s decision to reimagine Gray as a snapchatting, insta-loving, subscriber-hungry, Youtuber is inspired, tapping into a digital world so many of us spend far more time transfixed by than we would care to admit. The guarantee of popularity, opportunity, and a seemingly endless stream of likes is just too much to resist.

Interviewer Stephen Fry attempts to piece together how Gray’s untimely demise came about via detailed Zoom interviews paired with atmospheric staged flashbacks, while Lady Narborough (Joanna Lumley) largely navigates us through the story.

In addition to Fry and Lumley the all-star cast of Alfred Enoch, Emma McDonald, Russell Tovey and Fionn Whitehead add depth and quality to this haunting production.

The dark side of social media becomes a strong thread as the stark reality of internet trolling and cancel culture claims the life of Sibyl Vane, while the pandemic is cleverly weaved through the narrative as Gray’s life behind his screen begins to spiral so does his need to hide his face from the real world via a mask, an attempt to hide the physical manifestations of his ugly actions.

Gray’s declining mental health dangerously threatening to leak through his picture-perfect profile. Gray’s transition from fresh-faced blogger to anxiety ridden sunken-eyed social media monster is both exceptional and utterly terrifying.

Inspired and chillingly brilliant this production captivates entirely.

You can stream The Picture of Dorian Gray until 31 March tickets available via Barn Digital | Visit The Barn Theatre Today in Cirencester