Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dorian Gray - Kings Theatre Edinburgh, 30 August

Nearly there with my festival reviews!

We went to see Dorian Gray - one of 2008's hot ticket events - with our friends Chip and Eddie Clark. This was a free adaptation of the Oscar Wilde story as a ballet by Matthew Bourne and the New Directions company. I hadn't originally booked as I'd never seen any Bourne pieces before, but Chip got tickets for the final matinee. I had seen Bourne being interviewed about Dorian Gray on TV, so I knew that he likes to devise his pieces along with the dancers in the course of rehearsal; that his choreography was often criticised for not being dancerly enough; and that the piece was pretty violent.

The first thing to note is that Bourne has updated the storyline to the present day and made it a tale of celebrity culture. Dorian is the face of a mens' perfume, and this allows for some spellbinding choreography when he's at a party being photographed by paparazzi: every few seconds a flashbulb would go off and the appropriate image would be flashed up on a big screen. But the images being flashed up had been photographed beforehand, which meant the dancers had to be exceptionally accurate in their positions and timing for the scene to work. The depiction of the smart London scene is a brilliant and unflattering spotlight which owes a debt to Nicholas Roeg's Performance in its combination of effete elegance and undercurrent of danger. Dorian doesn't have a portrait in his attic, but he does have a Doppelganger who becomes increasingly violent: as much Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as Dorian Gray really. The sets and production were fantastic (in every sense), and Richard Winsor as Dorian was an unbelievably good dancer. Actually they all were, and if the men had better moves to dance than the women, well that's just how it turned out. (They did, but only slightly.) And yup, it is quite violent, but most of all it pull you in emotionally. Quite a feat on a Saturday afternoon.

All in all, I was left with an understanding of why the piece had become so celebrated, and with a strong desire to see some more of Matthew Bourne.

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