I HAVE seen Dramatic Productions in an enchanting children’s story, a polished and entertaining Ayckbourn, an unforgettable Of Mice and Men and now a new show that I hope to forget as soon as possible.
It is Bournemouth University tutor John Foster’s retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, on at Poole Lighthouse Studio until Saturday 26th October. Mr Foster’s much vaunted BAFTA was awarded to him as one of the writers of Down These Mean Streets A Man Must Go, an Omnibus documentary about Raymond Chandler broadcast in April 1969. Mr Foster is obsessed with death and murder, as is evident from his recent back catalogue of plays performed locally – The Murder Wife, a play about the Yorkshire Ripper, a new version of Jeckyll and Hyde, Death of a Model Citizen and Chummy, about a detective hired by a killer to stop him killing again. He provided the story for Letters from a Killer, a 1998 film by the late Patrick Swayze. He didn’t write the screenplay. Tarantino he is not.
Some of his previous work has had its powerful moments, but in this Dorian Gray obsession and pretension overtake argument, and the few moments where the psychological arguments are valid are lost in a gratuitous farrago of sex and violence and supremely facile attempts at poetic explanation. Some of it is wincingly bad.
And that is such a pity for the excellent cast, who are acting their socks off in creating vibrant characters.
There certainly were enough visual and spoken sexual references to keep the youthful majority of the audience in fits of giggles and ululating cheers.
The bank hold up was accompanied by a strobe light that I suspect far outlasted the suggested maximum duration, and served to distract from one of the more impressive scenes.
Enough already …
Director Judy Norman, responsible for the brilliant Of Mice and Men, did all she could with the material.
Sean Pogmore as the beautiful young man who makes a pact with the devil to enable him to keep his youth and looks, was a convincing Dorian, capturing the internal conflict and the overwhelming sadness.
His women, the good Basel, the androgyous and amoral goth Henri and the tart Maureen, were convincingly portrayed by Anna Newcome, Celia Muir and Hannah Bang Benda.
Really you can’t fault the acting and the final digital image of a Dorian ravaged by time as as haunting as the rest of the story should be.