No get out clause for Wilde flop

Daisy Bevan and Jack Fox in Dorian Gray. Photo: Alastair Muir
Honour Bayes is a freelance arts journalist who has written extensively for The Stage and had work published in the Guardian, Independent, Time Out, Exeunt Magazine and The Church Times. She is currently Associate Editor on Chinese arts magazine ArtZip and has worked as web editor for the Royal College of Art, managing its arts and design coverage.
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Look across the fringe and it's raining theatrical dynasties; Redgrave, Fox, Rigg – if you want to see the creme de la creme of genetic theatrical talent for half the price of a West End ticket now's the time to book.

Except for one of the shows it's not. I won't go into what I thought about Dorian Gray at the Riverside Studios again (I've written rather baldly about it here) but needless to say, it isn't good. While Diana Rigg's daughter, Rachael Stirling is on spirited form in Mike Bartlett's clever new play Intervention at Watford Palace, the youngest Fox and Redgrave are floundering in Hammersmith.

Dorian Gray is such a mess it's baffling why two actors with such powerful support networks would be in such a piece. Moreover unlike Stirling, who is an established actor in her own right, Jack Fox and Daisy Bevan (daughter of Joely Richardson) are making their stage debuts in this appalling play. As such they have been at the forefront of every piece of publicity going about this show, making themselves the faces of a production that has been revealed to be embarrassingly amateurish or even – as the Telegraph put it - 'ghastly'.

This isn't their fault of course, many an actor has been scuppered by shoddy directing. But I can't help question why they didn't drop the project once it was revealed, which much have been early on, that it was as far away from the acclaimed The Judas Kiss (starring Freddie Fox) as it was possible to be.

Perhaps I'm being naive to assume that this would have been an option. But to have signed such a water tight contract for such a budget production seems far fetched. Moreover where was the sage advice from their wealth of relatives during the contractual procedure?

It could be considered heartless to advocate the idea of leaving a company and show in the lurch just because you can afford to (heaven knows the PR would be terrible). But for all actors, dynasty progeny or not – it must be horrible to find yourself in a production that's steadily heading south. What are the available courses of action for you? As an actor you don't want to tick anyone off who you may want to work with again.

But while West End shows tie big names into less than successful runs with big sums, on the frugal fringe surely there's more flexibility than this. If not should there be? We can't offer the same remuneration, but perhaps we can offer the chance to work on shows you believe in. If a production is taken in a direction that is utterly different to what you were promised I think you should have the power to fight it.

Does this mean specified get out clauses? I'm not sure. Indeed perhaps I'll be accused of calling for a fringe of divas. Nonetheless the lesson here is surely – make sure you know what you're signing up to before you commit. I bet Jack and Daisy wish they did.