Tag Archives: oscar wilde

The Corruption of Dorian Gray – The Lion and Unicorn Theatre

20 Jul

I read ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray’ a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it so I was excited to go and watch ‘The Corruption of Dorian Gray’ at The Lion and Unicorn Theatre the other week.  The theatre, based in Kentish Town, is attached to a charming pub so we could enjoy a few relaxed drinks before we went in.

I’d read good reviews of the play so sat down on the tiny and majorly uncomfortable wooden stools (which seems to be a problem with these quaint, indie theatres… and those too-cool-for-school coffee shops but that is a rant for another time).  It followed the story quite closely and I thought the actors were all very well cast, especially the ultimate corruptor Henry Wotton, who is played by Will Harrison- Wallace, who was both infuriating and enticing as I found him in the book.  Dorian Gray, played by Michael Batton, was never my favourite character but he was played well, with a mixture of evil and likeability – plus, Batton – a mixture of Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Dancy – encapsulated the Victorian gentleman and probably has the most pronounced cheekbones I’ve ever seen in my life.

dorian gray

Adam Dechanel’s production emphasised the darkness of the book – so much so, there was what seemed to be a never-ending scene of some strange hedonistic orgy to highlight the seediness of London’s underworld, and the descent of Dorian Gray.  The production also highlighted the homosexuality between Basil and Gray, which is clearly alluded to in the book but explicitly shown in the production.

Objectively, the production was solid, yet I felt it lacked something.  I don’t know if this is because reading such a story allows for a subtler experience but with this production, I felt the messages were being rammed down my throat at some points with overly hammy acting, and they needn’t have been so explicitly portrayed.  The book seems more of a philosophical contemplation on beauty, youth and corruption; however, the realistic limitations of the stage mean that the production is much more hard-hitting, explicit and in some scenes, quite difficult to watch.  That said, my boyfriend loved it so it really is a matter of personal preference.  But overall, it’s a tricky story to adapt for stage; it was well-executed and worth a watch.

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Aside

Don’t leave the day job, folks

4 Apr

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In a recently discovered 13 page letter by the acclaimed author, Oscar Wilde advocates writers to continue with a day job, believing that his success was due to him never relying on the craft as a source of income.  This little gem is useful for all those would-be writers out there who are contemplating whether to just pack the office job in completely and begin life as a full-time writer.

“The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer.

“Make some sacrifice for your art and you will be repaid but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you.”

I found this both interesting and enlightening as I guess I had always assumed that I do things best when I’m under inordinate amounts of pressure, which seemed to be the case with pretty much all the exams/ academic achievements in my life so far – and what would be a higher pressured situation than not having any money?  However, the logical and rational side to me acknowledges that my belief that hard graft and stress will bring results is deeply flawed.  Not everything needs to resemble some type of endurance test (for this, I blame my Asian blood, where pain is considered ‘a good thing’ a lot of the time).  I have to remind myself that writing should ultimately be a fun, relaxing and therapeutic process, otherwise, well, what’s the bloody point of it all?

I had never seriously considered giving up the day job, as my (lack of) funds would literally feed, home and clothe me for about a week before I would be forced to crawl on my hands and feet back to the mother, but I had recently been considering other means of income.  I came up with many; however most of these ideas were either implausible as they would require a lot more capital than I could feasibly come up with or in some cases, they were literally impossible…

But if Wilde says ‘don’t do it’, then that pretty much settles things for me 🙂