Dorian: The Musical – A striking fusion of Wilde, Brecht, and Bowie

Dorian: The Musical, currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse, offers a fresh take on Oscar Wilde’s timeless novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” With a modern twist that infuses the narrative with a glam-rock soundtrack and contemporary themes, this production is a bold and inventive reimagining of Wilde’s classic tale.

Dorian The Musical - A striking fusion of Wilde, Brecht, and Bowie

Set in an intimate theatre space, the show immediately draws the audience into its immersive world. The atmosphere feels like a collision of Bertolt Brecht’s theatricality, Wilde’s biting wit, and Ziggy Stardust‘s flamboyance. The story follows Dorian Gray, a young and enigmatic musician who, upon becoming an overnight sensation, finds his life still curiously hollow despite achieving all his dreams.

Alfie Friedman takes on the titular role of Dorian, delivering a nuanced performance that captures both the character’s initial innocence and his eventual descent into hedonistic corruption. Friedman’s portrayal is compelling, balancing charm with the darker undercurrents of Dorian’s personality.

The supporting cast is equally strong. George Renshaw as the charismatic yet manipulative music producer Harry Wotton, Leeroy Boone as the morally conflicted photographer Baz Hallward, and Megan Hill as the tragic opera singer Sibyl Vane all bring depth and complexity to their roles. The interactions between these characters explore themes of love, obsession, and the cost of immortality, providing a modern resonance to Wilde’s original narrative.

The music, composed by Joe Evans, is a standout feature of the production. The glam-rock score, combined with contemporary pop influences, brings a vibrant energy to the show. The songs are well-integrated into the storyline, enhancing the emotional impact of key scenes without overshadowing the narrative.

Director Linnie Reedman and the talented young actors have done a commendable job of updating the story for a 21st-century audience. The inclusion of social media as a metaphorical looking glass through which youth and beauty are idolised adds a relevant and thought-provoking layer to the tale. The production does not shy away from exploring themes of queerness and the fluidity of identity, reflecting the ongoing conversations in today’s society.

However, the production is not without its flaws. At times, the pacing can feel uneven, particularly in the transition between some of the more intense scenes. The set design, while effective in creating an intimate and immersive environment, could benefit from a bit more variety to keep the visual experience engaging throughout the performance.

Dorian: The Musical is an ambitious and thought-provoking adaptation that successfully brings Wilde’s cautionary tale into the modern age. Its exploration of fame, identity, and the pursuit of eternal youth resonates deeply, making it a relevant piece for contemporary audiences. While not without its imperfections, it is a production that challenges and entertains, leaving a lasting impression.

Dorian: The Musical is running at Southwark Playhouse until 10 August 2024. For those looking to experience a fresh take on a literary classic, this show is well worth a visit.

Book your tickets now and step into the hypnotic world of Dorian Gray, where every wish comes at a price from Southwark Playhouse’s website.

Facebook Comments