The Story

The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published as a short novel in a literary magazine in 1890. Even prior to the first publication it underwent censure due to its controversial themes. The novel was seen as an overt criticism of London society in the Victorian Era. It tells the story of Dorian Gray—a young man who sits for a portrait painted by artist Basil Hallward. During the last painting session, Basil introduces Dorian to his friend, Lord Henry Wotton, who has an unconventional worldview that includes abandoning oneself to hedonistic pleasures and having no regard for the moral standards of society. Dorian is immediately taken by Lord Henry’s intoxicating ideals, wanting to experience the life that Lord Henry portrays in his speeches. Upon seeing Basil’s finished portrait and realizing that its youth and beauty are eternal while his own are destined to fade, Dorian makes a wish that it were the other way around. Much to his surprise, his wish comes true. As Dorian goes through life—never aging—immersing himself in carnal pleasures and abandoning himself to all types of sins, his portrait becomes the physical manifestation of the deterioration of his body and soul.

 

This incarnation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, is very special to me. My concept for the piece began simply as a desire to work on a one man show with my long-time friend and actor, Michael Abourizk. I began searching for published plays, which would both inspire me and showcase his abilities. My search proved a disappointment. So I turned my sights to adaptation, and this novel seemed like the perfect match. Both Michael and I love this book. As with any work of any genius, it was written before its time. Maybe precisely because the world wasn’t ready for such a story when it was created, the tale of Dorian Gray seems so universal and timeless today. Adapting a full-length novel into a one hour and fifteen minute play (where all the characters are portrayed by the same actor) proved to be quite a challenge. However, Wilde himself had stated once that the three pivotal characters in the novel—Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton—are three facets of his own personality. It seems like this classical piece of literature was destined for such an interpretation…

Darya Gerasimenko, Playwright/Director/Set Designer