Big Finish, out now
Oscar Wilde’s classic tale of corruption…
Brought to you by the team behind Big Finish’s The Confessions of Dorian Gray series, this is an interesting take on Wilde’s novel which will contain various surprises for those who know the original story. As Llewellyn explains on the interviews on the third disc, Wilde’s prose doesn’t necessarily lend itself to easy adaptation: there are a large number of peripheral characters, some of whom can be combined or dropped, and there are substantial sections in which Wilde pontificates on various matters. Accordingly Llewellyn has stripped the plot to its bare essentials, and made it centre on Dorian, Lord Henry Wotton, and Basil Hallward. He’s also altered the character of Sibyl Vane to make her seem more sympathetic (and less stupid) than Wilde’s version.
What he hasn’t changed – in fact, has brought into even more sharp relief – is the amoral, borderline evil, character of Dorian himself. Over the past year, we’ve almost become accustomed to the Dorian of The Confessions, the character on whom Wilde based Dorian Gray in the story – at least, according to the first episode of The Confessions, which is handily also supplied as part of this collection, as well as a suite of music. The Confessions Dorian is a more approachable character, with his foibles and flaws making him perhaps not someone you’d trust. He’s capable of murder, as Wilde’s Dorian is, but not with the relish that the Picture Dorian brings.
Both are played by Alexander Vlahos, who’s displayed great versatility in his work on The Confessions. He’s pushed further in this adaptation, the coldness that he’s hinted at in the series now coming to the fore. Dorian is a sybaritic, selfish bastard of the first rank, who uses anyone he can and then discards him or her, once he has bent them to his will – and then, far too late, begins to realise what he has done. Miles Richardson and Marcus Hutton make great foils for Dorian, with Ian Hallard making his mark as Alan Campbell.
Director and producer Scott Handcock has shepherded the Dorian series through this far, and hopefully there will be plenty of adventures to come for the Confessions version despite the events of the series two finale. This ‘alternate universe’ Dorian is equally enjoyable, and makes a great contribution to Big Finish’s classic adaptations.
Verdict: Wildean purists may baulk at some of the changes, but this is a very effective adaptation of the classic tale. 8/10