Oscar Wilde wrote some amazing stuff, from “Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world” from "The Critic as Artist" to “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?” from The Picture of Dorian Gray.
There is nothing so real as words — they toy with one’s senses until the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred or dissolved altogether, as was my experience with the UW Undergraduate Theater Society’s production of The Picture of Dorian Gray, from Wilde's famous novel. The production was flawless, the acting impeccable, and the terror palpable. In such a small space as the Cabaret in Hutchinson Hall on the UW campus, one would expect something akin to a technically simple, classic rendition of Shakespeare. Instead, what I found was some of the best lighting, set design, acting, and directing I have seen in quite some time. Technically, this production rivaled the 5th Avenue Theatre, the Paramount, and ACT.
As for the content of this play, though, I had a few issues with it. My main issue was that it got so dark and so creepy by the intermission that I had to leave because I was terrified because – due to how flawless the production was — it seemed too real. I definitely recommend this for viewers 17 and older, however bear in mind that it scared the crap out of both me and my boyfriend in under an hour and a half. My other issue was simply the jump scares. It does have plenty of those in it, as well as having people in your personal space at times, so if you are sensitive to those things at all, be warned that there is a lot of that.
The characters are delightful: Harriett (Sarah Priddy) is altruistic and self-absorbed to a fault. Dorian (Holly Griffith)… well, he lost his soul. Basil (Jake Lemberg) is really rather loveable. And Francis (Hal Schrieve) I will leave to you to figure out. All in all, however, this was a thought-provoking, conversation-starting, all too real, and very gorgeous production.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
UW Undergraduate Theater Society
November 20 - December 7