The only published novel of English writer Oscar Wilde can be rightly considered to be one of the most frequently adapted literature works in the world cinematography. The situation is somewhat different with theater performances. The idea of eternal youth and impunity has, undoubtedly, been interesting to the audience and will continue to be, but only few dare to stage the play, because the risk of not living up to the standards set by the author is really high. It takes a lot of work to show the depth of interpersonal relations and the value of human soul described by Wilde.
We should make one reservation - the play isn’t quite based on the book, it’s more likely based on the film, where at the end we see the grown-up daughter of Lord Henry, who tries to save Dorian Gray’s soul with her pure love, but the result is well known. To deepen the drama of the play and to show how the protagonist changes together with the portrait throughout the story, visual effects were used. Actually, instead of a painted portrait, you can see an installation of the picture of the protagonist, which shows the main turning points in the protagonist’s fate with the help of audio and visual effects. Sometimes the quick pace of the plot doesn’t allow you to fully feel situations, be that Sibyl’s death or Basil’s death that follows right after, but visual effects slightly help as they create the required atmosphere.
From the very beginning, the play sets a rather quick pace of the narration, the events of the first act developing so rapidly that it sometimes seems that everything will finish too soon. But the impression is misleading. In the second act everything goes, on the contrary, rather slow, more time is devoted to revealing the protagonist. The development (the downfall?) of Dorian Gray performed by Alexander Chernyshev can be followed throughout the play. Against the background of flawless singing he plays an innocent lamb who falls into the “claws” of predator Lord Henry slightly too long. Igor Shumaev, who performs the role of the protagonist’s mentor, cannot be called the main antagonist of the play. Like human relations, his philosophy is also complex and cannot be judged one-sidedly. The scene of “tutoring” Dorian in the art of life according to the method of Henry Wotton by the author himself seems to be the best in the play and demonstrates excellent actor performance. The key role in the performance is played by infatuated Basil Hallward, who paints the infamous portrait. Throughout the play, the director gives us a clear idea that the love the painter feels towards Dorian is far from being platonic. We should mention here that Natalia Indeykina has approached the topic of homosexual subtext of the work quite boldly. What is given in the book as hints and intricate phrases is shown quite directly in the play. Here we should mention the scene in the brothel with Adrian Singleton, and the scene in the car with Alan Campbell, and, finally, the very first aria of the musical, where Basil confesses his feelings towards Dorian while talking to Henry. Of course, Oscar Wilde wouldn’t have been himself without these hints in his works, but today only few will dare to stage such blatant scenes (Roman Viktyuk, Constantine Raikin).
There are some drawbacks in the musical directed by Natalia Indeykina, such as light, costumes and sound, but it doesn’t fall apart. Though the costumes and the sets are rather simple (this is more a funding issue, than that of directing) the musical looks very light. The prefix “horror” hasn’t quite justified itself, because it suggests certain scenic and other elements, which are supposed to frighten the viewer or incite horror. The director is, on the contrary, quite mild with Dorian Gray’s character, harshly outlining only the murders on stage, again in quite a mild form. Dorian gets involved in the game too much, because, unlike his best friend Lord Henry, he isn’t as psychologically stage and insensitive to what is happening in his life. He is unable to cope with himself, falling deeper and deeper into the vicious and idle way of life. The substitution of concepts, which was so intricately played by Henry during their first meeting, was fatal, because “at other times Evil was for him only a means for what he considered the beauty of life” (O. Wilde). It is well shown in the play and it is undoubtedly its main value.