Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself." - Oscar Wilde / Lord Henry

Last year's choice for One City, One Book was Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, and as part of the festival Wonderland Theatre put on a play of the book in Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street. The show received rave reviews ("must see theatre", "an exquisite adaptation") so perhaps unsurprisingly Wonderland have brought it back for another run in the same beautiful setting of Bewley's. This time it's a dinner show.

This is a very distinctive play. There's no stage - the actors use the same space the patrons are dining in. Even the most snug, intimate of theatres can't match the immediacy of this. With the spectators so close to the actors the quality of the acting has to be high, and it is. The room itself is beautiful, and very well suited to the play; props used in the play blend easily into the decor.

The story is a well-known one; the story of a young man, Dorian Gray, given the chance to keep his youth and beauty beyond natural limits. It's surprisingly intense, though that might be due to the setting. As an adaptation it's superb - it really has the flavour and wit of Wilde's own plays.

Dinner is served by Bewley's prior to the start of the show. (It's similar to their lunch menu in portion size.) I'd suggest the tagliatelle, as it's something of a signature dish. The dessert was also good and the coffee was excellent.

The only small concern I'd express is that at one hour and thirty minutes without an interval, the play is quite demanding. Don't let that put you off - just be aware that if you're tired after a long day's work, the intimacy of the setting might make this play less relaxing than most. If however you're a tourist - wow! Wilde plus Bewley's is a great combination. I'd also recommend the play very highly if you're a frequent theatre-goer looking for something unusual and different.

Conclusion: enjoyable, well-acted and novel. If you missed it last year, give it a go.

Tickets cost €35-€40, including dinner, coffee and the show. The Picture of Dorian Gray runs in Bewley's until Saturday 23rd April 2011, except for Sundays and Mondays.

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