Adelaide Festival

Adelaide Festival Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Under the bold direction of Kip Williams, The Picture of Dorian Gray breaks into the twenty-first century.


Presented by Sydney Theatre Company & Emirates (Presenting Partner)
Reviewed 14th March 2022

Heralding from the Sydney Theatre Company, the fierce creative forces of director Kip Williams and performer Eryn Jean Norvill combine to bring Oscar Wilde’s salacious novel The Picture of Dorian Gray to the stage. Not only do they breathe new life into the famed story of narcissism but also, through the use of live and pre-recorded video, break into the twenty-first century. Norvill astounds as she portrays twenty-six different characters without pause over two hours.

Williams’ production is both true to the Victorian time period and entirely modern. Norvill’s period costumes are detailed, lavish, and colourful, as are the set pieces that are wheeled onto stage whenever required. However, much of the story takes place with Norvill on an empty stage, surrounded by cameramen in black and giant hanging screens over-head. At times the audience is overwhelmed by Norvill’s face, distorted by real time filters that reflect Dorian’s madness and echoes the self-obsession of social media. Other times the screens isolate Norvill, utilising the vertical space of the cavernous stage. Designer Marg Horwell, Lighting Designer Nick Schlieper, and Video Designer David Bergman must all be commended here. The entire production is flawlessly rehearsed and performed in sync with the videos.

Though only one performer, Norvill perfectly distinguishes each character through lightning fast costume changes, helpful stagehands and cameramen to capture her at different angles during heated conversations with herself. She portrays Dorian’s descent into hedonism with passion, and elicits the uneasy sympathy of the audience. In her hands, Lord Harry Wotton is seductive and undeniable. She wears literal and metaphorical layers of costumes while never breaking a sweat.

As we follow Dorian’s corruption and creep closer to his doomed fate, we are forcibly reminded of ourselves. Beyond theatre or prose, Williams’ production of The Picture of Dorian Gray is an overwhelming and unforgettable experience, not to be missed.

Reviewed by Nicola Woolford

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre
Season: 13th – 20th March 2022
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets:  $25.00 – $119.00

Rating out of 5: 5

Photo Credit: Daniel Boud

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