★★★★ | The Picture of Dorian Gray at Dorian Gray’s Townhouse

Staged in a Georgian townhouse in Greenwich “modernised” to suit a wealthy Victorian resident, The Alchemist Order have presented an exciting and innovative production of this classic Oscar Wilde play.

For those that don’t know the story, The Picture of Dorian Gray is the tale of a young man who trades his soul for eternal youth and beauty. As he lives a life of hedonism and decadence, a portrait painted of him as a young man ages in his place. Often cited as one of the finest examples of Gothic literature, The Picture of Dorian Gray is exquisitely dark but peppered with Wilde’s trademark wit.

Dorian, played by the brilliant Mia Hawk, is both innocent and debauched, and Hawk conveys both with conviction. Although momentarily distracting that he is played by a female, the combination of great acting, inventive staging and clever writing soon forgives this. Chatting to the cast after the performance, I learned that Mia had less than a week to rehearse this role following an injury to the original actor, which makes her portrayal of this complex character all the more impressive.

Samuel Orange, Creative Director of The Alchemist Order, plays Lord Henry Wotton utterly convincingly and has a natural ability to hold a stage, in even the most intimate of spaces. The interplay between Lord Henry and Dorian strikes just the right balance of tension and allure. Similarly notable is Jonathan Redfern, playing Basil Hallward, who brings a somewhat mesmerising flair to his role and is completely believable as the tortured artist.

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An outstanding highlight for me, though, is the fantastic Louise Larchbourne, whose Mrs Leaf is thoroughly engaging, and carries just the right balance of servitude and mastery appropriate for her role. From the moment one steps through the door into Mr Gray’s salon, all through the interval and right through to the time you leave, Larchbourne remains perfectly in character, entertaining and serving guests with a respectful wit.

This is the inaugural production of The Alchemic Order, and if it is any indication of what is to come, the future of creative and imaginative theatre is very, very secure.

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THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY plays at Dorian Gray’s Townhouse, 2 minutes’ walk from Greenwich station (exact address revealed upon booking) Tues – Sat until 28 September. Tickets are £35 (£25 on Tues) from www.thealchemicorder.com

About the author: RobinForeman
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