There is something very appropriate about this story coming out just before Big Finish release their adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s original tale. Scott Handcock – who wrote, directed, produced, and probably made the tea for the cast during recording of this finale – doesn’t hesitate to go for the emotional jugular, treating us to insights into the Dorian of the 21st Century, as well as revealing some of what made him the man that Wilde wrote about in the 19th.
Lalla Ward and Geoffrey Breton guest star and are both given a great deal to work with, but there’s no question that this is Alexander Vlahos’s starring moment: occasionally events have moved around Dorian during these tales, and he’s been reactive. This is a more proactive Dorian – in both timeframes – and we see that he has learned from everything that happened to him, both before the painting was created and afterwards. The mature adult that Ward’s Constance Harker can see in the adolescent Dorian finally comes to the fore and makes a decision that perhaps earlier he simply could not have been capable of – and only coming face to face with the damage of his youth could persuade him to do so.
The story ends with a short piece of music, which may be seen by some as self-indulgence on the director’s part. It isn’t. It gives listeners time to reflect on what they’ve just heard, and the pain and loneliness inherent in that. Congratulations to all involved at Big Finish for taking the harder road.
Verdict: The most appropriate ending to a season of stories in a long time. 9/10