In an unusual move, creative director Samuel Orange (brother of Take That star Jason, the promotional material shouts) has thrown open the doors of his Greenwich house to host this production, in which the audience moves around the house and into the spacious garden with the actors.
The cast of The Picture of Dorian Gray: (back row l-r) Mark Laughtone, Louise Larchbourne, Ashlie Walker, Aron Trausti, Anna Dane. (Front row) Harry August, River Hawkins, Samuel Orange and Jonathan Redfern Photo: Sebastian Lister
Any fears that this might be a vanity project are soon quelled. There are many plus points to the production, the primary one being Samuel Orange himself, who inhabits the role of the self-centred, rather jaded Lord Henry Wotton admirably.
Starting off assembled around Dorian’s large bed, this adaptation certainly doesn’t shirk away from intimacy, as a topless Dorian (River Hawkins) reclines among his satin sheets in the opening scene. House servants Mrs Leaf (Louise Larchbourne) and Victor (Mark Laughtone) are also tasked with being hosts, a demanding job that requires staying in character even during the interval.
So preoccupied is the production with being free and easy - guests are encouraged to wander and sit wherever they like - it suffers from not having enough audience management. A little more direction could be subtly structured in and would ensure that key moments are not missed.
Ultimately, it is brave of Orange to invest so much of himself into this production, and the enthusiasm does pay off to a degree. The garden provides an enchanting setting and both Orange and Hawkins are impressive in the leading roles. Yes, it’s rough around the edges and there are times when some cast members stumble over their lines, but for an inaugural show it is certainly passionate, inventive and, most importantly, memorable.