Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dorian Gray Rocks the House

Contrary to yesterday's Washington Post review of The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Round House Theatre, I found the contemporary take on Oscar Wilde's novel a sophisticated, thought-provoking winner from every perspective. It's basically about a man who sells his soul to stay young; a portrait of him suffers the ravages of his life instead. I was immediately drawn in by the smart dialogue taking place in the decadent '80s when the art scene flourished, money (and cocaine) still flowed. Though not in London then, I was in Manhattan, and for a few minutes of the opening act, I was back, feeling the club and gallery scenes, which were done to perfection. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa nailed it as far as contemporary context goes. And so did the brilliant actors. Each was perfect in his/her role--especially the coolly beautiful Faustian Dorian, played by Roderick Hill. James Kronzer's staging was art itself--large revolving gray-slab walls provided a bleak canvas for the living art created by the actors prancing about on the paint-splattered floor, subtly alluding to the stage as painter's studio. Which brings us to the thematic elements, which in my mind were intriguing (and kept me awake)--when you push art to the limits, you get cubism. When you live to the extreme, you get...well, less desirable results. We had an upper balcony seat in a corner and had a perfect view. Round House should be commended for staging, seating and accessibility. Kronzer, artistic director Blake Robison and playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa scored a winner. 4 stars.

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