This faithful adaptation of Oscar Wilde's most famous novel sees River Hawkins in the title role of Dorian, a devastatingly handsome youth whose beauty has a profound effect on everyone he meets. When cynical Lord Henry Wotton (Samuel Orange, the creative director) drops in on his earnest artist friend Basil Hallward (Jonathan Redfern) while he is painting Dorian, the stage is set for a story that can only end in tragedy. Despite Basil's protestations, the impressionable youth becomes a disciple of Lord Henry's, taking his world weary tenets to heart - and putting them into practice.
This production by The Alchemic Order is a piece of immersive theatre in a converted private townhouse, where various scenes take place throughout the building and garden. It is attractively staged and good use is made of its location. For instance, the audience is invited to eavesdrop on a scene between Dorian's beau Sybil (Ashlie Walker) and her mother, Mrs Vane (Anna Dane) through a glass panel in the living room floor. However, the acting of the three main characters leaves something to be desired. This is the work that gave us such gems as "The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it" and "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." And while Wilde's now classic witticisms are always enjoyable, the stilted acting is not. You can almost feel the audience's relief when stalwarts Louise Larchbourne and Mark Laughtone are on stage; between them, the pair play a variety of roles and they are the production's shining lights.
I saw this play on a balmy summer's evening and there was a congenial atmosphere, which just about compensates for the ropiness of some of the acting. Just.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is on at Dorian Gray's House, Greenwich, London, until 28 September. For bookings, see www.thealchemicorder.com