|Brandon Simmons in The Picture of Dorian Gray (John Ulman)
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Book-It Repertory Theatre
Through July 1, 2018
If you know a little about the story of Dorian Gray, maybe you’ve heard of the novel about a man who doesn’t age and a portrait of him that does. Oscar Wilde, better known as a playwright in Britian in the late 1800s, wrote the novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, in a serial fashion which caught literary fancy and also was decried for destroying morality.
Book-It Repertory Theatre has taken a stab at turning Wilde’s novel into a play, which is an amusing switch for Wilde’s history. This adaptation by Judd Parkin is less “Book-It” in style, which uses a lot of narrative as dialogue, possibly because Wilde wrote so theatrically with a lot of conversation. Certainly, the adaptation flows extremely well.
It’s also much more amusing than I expected from what I knew to be a dark story: A young Dorian Gray (Chip Sherman) is painted by a besotted (gay) painter, Basil Hallward (Jon Lutyens). Influenced by notorious Lord Henry Wotton (Brandon J. Simmons), Gray is drawn to “free spirit” ideals. Lord Henry leads Gray to honor youth and beauty and when Gray sees his beauteous young painting, Gray wishes that somehow he could remain ever young and the painting could age in his stead.