Review: The Confessions of Dorian Gray: Special: The Prime of Deacon Brodie

Prime of Deacon Brodie, The cover1920 Edinburgh, and Dorian is seeking a chance to reassure an old friend that he is still alive…

This special extended episode of Dorian Gray shows us what Dorian got up to during the First World War, as well as in the immediate period afterward. It’s a tale which suggests that Dorian can pretty much survive anything, even death, because his painting will absorb the ill done to it.

There are a lot of good elements to The Prime of Deacon Brodie: (spoilers follow – highlight the next section if you’ve heard the story already) For reasons that become clear, Alexander Vlahos isn’t the only person to play Dorian in the story, and Rhys Jennings takes on the mantle with aplomb, capturing a lot of Vlahos’s intonations and phrasings. The scene where Jennings-as-Dorian faces Vlahos is a highlight, and strong direction from Scott Handcock ensures that both Vlahos and Jennings’ interaction with Daniel Brocklebank’s James Anderson have continuity – the story would fall apart if you don’t believe implicitly in the conceit at its heart.

However, it’s a bit too long: the episodes worked well at roughly half an hour each, and the special featuring Sherlock Holmes allowed Nick Briggs’ Holmes to share in the action. Roy Gill’s story is totally based around Dorian himself – albeit with an extended flashback sequence to the First World War – and it drags slightly. It doesn’t help that it’s a story that feels a little too much like a tale about Jack Harkness with the serial numbers filed off, a comparison which the series has avoided up to now.

That’s not to say that it’s a poor relation of the earlier series: it’s vital with any project such as this to experiment with new formats, and it’s certainly a valid addition to the Dorian mythos that Big Finish has created. No further series have yet been announced, but hopefully new adventures will follow the second special, coming in the new year.

Verdict: Perhaps not the strongest Confession that Dorian has recounted, but still an enjoyable diversion. 7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order The Prime of Deacon Brodie from Big Finish

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