by Lorie Lewis Ham
I have been a fan of Oscar Wilde ever since I saw The Importance of Being Earnest, so when I heard that the Curtain 5 Theatre Group was doing a play based on Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, I was very excited.
According to the show’s director, Jerry Palladino, this is the first time that this particular play has been performed in the US. This is a very shortened version of the familiar story, being only a One Act play–so needless to say it is almost more of an overview of the book than the full story. However, I felt like it did an excellent job of presenting enough of the story to feel complete. I have to admit that just like seeing a book adapted into a movie, there were changes made I didn’t like as well as the book, but it was still a good story.
For anyone who doesn’t know the story, The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a young man who has his portrait painted and wishes that he could stay like he is in the painting forever. For reasons that are never really explained, that is just what happens. The painting ages instead of the man, and we see the consequences of this in the story. Dorian starts off as an innocent, sweet, and beautiful young man, but his soul becomes very corrupted over time. His best friend Sir Henry plays a major role in leading the young man astray, but Dorian soon finds even more trouble on his own.
There are only six characters in this production, with the main three being Dorian (Ian Jones), Sir Henry (Matthew Vargas), and the painter Margaret (Lori Gambero) (who is a man in the book). All of the actors in this show did a good job, and the story was presented wonderfully in this small, simple space, with a minimal set. What made this show though, besides the story itself, was the portrayal of Dorian by the young actor Ian Jones. He truly made this complex character come to life! If he can do such an amazing job with such a difficult role while still in high school, I can’t wait to see what this young actor can accomplish over time.
There were a couple of comedy dialogues before Dorian Gray–Werewolf in My Bed and Happily Ever After. They were very short, but funny and clever, and featured some of the same actors. Keep in mind, the comedies are definitely PG 13 and some of the comedy was a bit crude, so not for kids.
You can see The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Fresno Soap Co. in the Tower District, 1470 N. Van Ness Avenue, and it runs until July 18. If you enjoy a dark drama with some amazing acting, don’t miss this show! Tickets can be purchased on BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door.
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