John Fisher's adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray casts bright light on murky morals
Balletic, operatic touches (including light but compelling movement from choreographer Lia Metz, amid occasional bursts of Wagner and other Romantics) enhance the more lurid moments lovingly, while filling out the action with the most economical yet graceful of gestures. When modest theater actress Sybil Vane (a sharp and appealing Wanlass), victim of Dorian's caprice, jumps to her death, the moment shifts from sturm und drang to a tragic tranquility. The actress throws up her hands and recedes slowly backward upstage, already of another world, as the back wall stops her cold, her vertical pose perfectly in line with the audience's sight line as it follows her down to the ground.
The production has minor flaws. Chun and Simpson speak into offstage microphones to substitute for onstage servants and other minor parts, and the disparities within sound quality and volume, along with the tossed-off line readings, prove jarring. But any missteps are small ones. Moreover, despite a nearly three-hour run time, the play's length isn't a problem. Every word of Wilde's put to use here — and Fisher has elegantly managed to include a lot of them — feels relevant, enticing, and necessary. If anything, the subtlety and thematic density of the speech demands a certain period of adjustment, and the two sets amount to full immersion in the heart of Dorian Gray. *
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY
Wed.–Sat, 8 p.m.; Sun, 3 p.m.;
(through Sept. 19); $15–$20
215 Jackson, SF