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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Theatre: The Mercy Seat

The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute is hard hitting and controversial. Originally staged in 2002, it no doubt caused a stir when first staged a dark and cynical look at human emotions against the backdrop of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ten years on, time gives it a different perspective. It feels less shocking and the more understandable. Perhaps it helps having lived in London through a summer of mindless random criminal acts... Riots, police corruption, general economic malaise... Life can seem a lot like how LaBute describes it: random and opportunistic. And given the right set of circumstances anyone can do anything.

Against this backdrop is Ben and Abby (played by Sean O'Neil and Janine Ingrid Ulfane). She is his boss and he is married. Both should have been at the Twin Towers but a morning dalliance meant that instead they were at her flat. And now against the tragedy there is a potential opportunity.

To give too much away would spoil the play, but watching the chemistry between the two actors as they alternate between sparring and embracing each other is fascinating and brutally believable. It is a roller coaster ride and after a slow build up things move quickly throughout the one hour forty minutes at the theatre. The intimacy of the Pleasance theatre makes watching the proceedings at times almost voyeuristic and unbearable. But like all good drama you can't resist watching. It runs until 16 September.

Immediate impressions from the Audioboo below (with thanks to Webcowgirl)
Theatre: The Mercy Seat at Pleasance Islington (mp3)

A chance to also reflect upon the fact that ten years ago there was not much social media. Sure there were blogs, but with no wifi, no tweets no audioboos... How did we live our lives?

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