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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

Best laid plans: Gracie @Finborough

It’s a whirlwind life for Gracie. The title character in this piece who is its storyteller and survivor. She was born into a polygamous religious cult, taken across the US border at the age of eight after her mother became the wife of an elder there. The eighteenth wife. As she reaches fifteen she hopes for a husband who is sweet and kind. And not too old. But those controlling her life have other ideas. 

The European premiere of Joan MacLeod’s work has been playing at the Finborough Theatre on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. While it is a work of fiction, it’s packed full of evocative detail that it feels like it could be true. Especially with Carla Langley’s engaging performance in the title role. Over the course of an 90 minute monologue she moves from childlike optimism to fear and entrapment then hope following an escape. 

It’s part adventure, part mundane life and part horror story. Particularly as it becomes clear of the life set out before her as part of “God’s plan”. Or rather, religion used as a cover for abuse and criminal activity.
The programme notes that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has been suspected of trafficking women across states and borders. Sometimes for polygamous marriages against their will. While the piece doesn’t depict violence or sexual abuse, it feels like it’s there all the same. This is a simple production. There are few effects which focus on the details and the story to be told.

Part of the Canadian Playwrights at the Finborough series and Directed by Gemma Aked-Priestley, Gracie concludes on May 15

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