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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

Depression and abuse: The Distance You Have Come @Cockpittheatre

Scott Alan’s song cycle The Distance You Have Come gets a star quality injection with it’s lineup of West End performers. If only the material could match them. Entering the theatre you’re warned you’re about to see a show with “adult themes pertaining to depression and abuse”. But that’s only part of the problem. Still, it’s great to see some of the best performers on the West End up close in the intimate surrounds of the Cockpit Theatre.

There’s Andy Coxon and Adrian Hansel play two lovers who after a brief relationship get a dog gayby. There’s Emma Hatton and Dean John-Wilson who seem to have a Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman Eyes Wide Shut-style of relationship. And there’s Jodie Jacobs and Alexia Khadime who are best friends until a close encounter of the same sex kind complicates everything.

Cue the depression, abuse and extended self reflection. And a curious scene involving hooded people wearing masks, stripping Dean John-Wilson down to his boxers.

It can be challenging to have a song cycle with the right balance and variety to it to keep the audience interested. Alas singer-songwriter Scott Alan’s music has a repetitive quality to it. Alternating between Hallmark and hell, every song starts wistfully. But then builds to a mini-climax complete with contrived sentimentality and awkward rhymes.

Two gay men singing “you’ll always have a home inside of me” was the most unintentionally amusing part of the evening.

Given the range of theatrical performers that love to perform them, they must be more fun to sing than they are to listen to. Or that this is one American composer that is lost in translation.

Still, in this simple production looks great and the acoustics are mostly clear.

With book, music, lyrics and direction by Scott Alan and musical direction by Scott Morgan, The Distance You Have Come is at the Cockpit Theatre until 28 October.


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Photos by Darren Bell

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