Review: Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray

Just a quick review for this as it was a couple of weeks ago, and the run has now finished, plus there’s lots of lovely pics I wanted to post too! Matthew Bourne’s Dorian Gray returned to Sadler’s Wells after premiering in Edinburgh last summer, with largely the same cast. Taking Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray as its source material, this dance drama updates the action to modern times, so that Dorian is now a beautiful model who becomes an ‘It boy’ who takes the London fashion scene by storm, the portrait becomes a giant advertising billboard and there are a couple of characters who have switched gender.

I generally do not go to much dance and so cannot comment with much authority on the finer points of the quality of the choreography, but I can say that I found it most entertaining. The combination of the at times classical dancing between pairs and the modern, almost pop video-like group dances worked very well, and there was a surprising amount of humour worked into the dance as well. My lack of dance knowledge perhaps made me focus more on the storytelling, and I find it incredible how well the piece did in relating the action with not a word being said. The only area that needed a little clarity for me was with the doppelganger: I wasn’t sure whether he was a real character that had appeared on the scene or meant to just be an alter ego of Dorian himself.

Richard Winsor as the beautiful, tortured Dorian and Michele Meazza as the coldly ambitious Lady H were both superb in their own rights, but also radiating electric chemistry in their scenes together. Indeed, I think the straight sex scenes were a bit more successful in creating the necessary erotic feel than the numerous representations of gay sex that were thrown at us. I am not sure what it was, but gay sex through the medium of modern dance did nothing for me!

Where the piece did succeed though was in the seduction scenes, and the pas de deux (if that is what it was!) between Dorian and Basil with his camera was highly erotically charged and I thought the flashing of the pictures on the wall behind as they were taken was inspired.

So whilst this didn’t quite match up to the dizzy heights of Bourne’s re-envisioning of Swan Lake, which blew me away when I first saw it a long, long time ago, this was still a most entertaining evening out and made me think maybe I should bite the bullet and go and see more dance shows.

Running at Sadler’s Wells

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