‘There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth.’ It is with such ideals, ideals that drip with pomposity, that Lord Henry Wotton sets into motion the corruption of the titular Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s most celebrated work; ideals which the five-man strong group Incognito Theatre clearly have tremendous fun playing with.
Following on from their 2014 debut at the Fringe, the group return with Wilde’s scathing satire on beauty, vanity and corruption. With no more than the five actors and some empty picture frames at their disposal, the group are able to marvelously conjure up various environments in the most minimalist of ways – including the use of chaotic choreography and mime on several occasions.
Of course, five actors aren’t enough to perform the story and thus each person portrays several characters throughout, yet through careful direction from Anna Simpson and wonderfully theatrical performing (this is Wilde after all), things are never difficult to follow – in fact it’s a joy to watch.
Subtlety is not the name of the game here, and it is Charlie MacVicar who understands this best as the arrogant Lord Henry, spitting out such fabulous lines as, ‘There is no such thing as a good influence,’ and ‘My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex,’ with a sinister smile that makes you wonder if he hasn’t somehow descended from the character himself. One could argue that things are maybe a tad over the top, but that’s kind of the point.
The scenes which portray Dorian’s internal torment are satisfyingly creepy, and George John’s youth is somewhat of an advantage for playing Dorian (complaining of future wrinkles only really works if you don’t currently have any). The only real flaw is that – being as popular a story as it is – there are few shocks along the way; we all know where the story is heading. Thankfully, it’s an absolute blast getting there.