‘The Picture Of Dorian Gray’ Is An Unforgettable Masterpiece: Review

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Sarah Snook displays her astonishing versatility as an actress in this one-woman adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. The novel tells the story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful young man who descends into a life of crime and vice after he wishes to stay forever handsome, whilst his portrait reflects his despicable behaviour, growing more and more hideous by the day. Snook is utterly mesmerising to watch, taking on all 26 roles seemingly with ease.

The play opens with her narration, swiftly followed by a demonstration of her incredible ability to switch characters within a breath. She holds a paintbrush for her performance as Basil Hallward, the eager artist who paints the portrait of Dorian that allows him to remain eternally youthful. For Lord Henry Wotton, Basil’s witty and suave friend whom Dorian views as a mentor, Snook switches out the paintbrush for a cigarette and adopts a more amused persona, transforming her personas so smoothly that it feels as though there is another actor on stage with her.

Her performances are perfectly theatrical, as she manages to balance the sometimes melodramatic behaviour of Dorian with a genuinely tragic monologue at the close of the play. Snook is a magnetic performer, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is unlikely to be her last Academy Award-winning performance in her lifetime.

Snook’s jaw-dropping performance is only enhanced by the ingenious use of cameras and technology to aid the show. As is expected, the sheer number of characters makes it impossible for Snook to play more than a few in one scene, and she normally only switches between Basil, Henry and Dorian in a single conversation. To get around this issue, the show
includes multiple screens at the front of the stage, using pre-recorded footage to allow Snook to interact with her past performances. A particularly impressive scene involved Snook as Lord Henry, sat at the head of a dinner table, interacting with six other characters in a shockingly believable scene.

There are also live cameras following Snook around the stage, enabling the audience to view her from multiple angles, even when the actor herself is shielded from view. The utilisation of cameras adds to the bombastic nature of the play itself, with the constantly moving screens contributing to the drama and tension present as Dorian Gray attempts to keep the secret of his youthful appearance.

The creativity of the play is magnificent to witness, with a musical number marking Dorian’s descent into full-blown villainy, a reenactment of Romeo and Juliet using puppets and a mini-stage, and even a segment where Snook uses Snapchat filters on her phone to showcase Dorian’s grotesque appearance as his immorality intensifies. I truly have never seen a play as
ambitious as this one, and it is a testament to the skill of both Snook and the backstage crew that the performance was so successful.

This truly is a phenomenal play, and one that everyone should go watch. You will be astonished by the spectacle of the performance and will leave in awe of the powerhouse that is Sarah Snook.

Words by Emily Nutbean.


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