Big Finish In Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Synopsis: When Dorian Gray, a handsome young man about town, makes this wish, he can hardly guess that it will mark the beginning of a life of hedonism and...

doriangray

Synopsis: When Dorian Gray, a handsome young man about town, makes this wish, he can hardly guess that it will mark the beginning of a life of hedonism and debauchery.

Soon enough, his webs of deception and deceit catch innocent victims, some of them his closest friends, and the only evidence of his misdeeds is a long-forgotten portrait in his attic…

Review: I first read The Picture of Dorian Gray in high school. At the time, I only knew two things: Oscar Wilde was a Victorian-era playwright, and this was his only novel. I remember thinking that it read like the only novel written by a man accustomed to writing plays. The characters spent a lot of time talking in limited settings and much of the action happened off stage. In 2011, I read The Picture of Dorian Gray An Annotated, Uncensored Edition, edited by Nicholas Frankel. I learned that the book I had read in high school had been edited first by Wilde’s original publisher and later by Wilde himself to remove homoerotic content. This, in part, explained my initial impression that character motivations seemed off and watered down.

I was pleased to hear, therefore, that writer David Llewellyn fleshed out Wide’s text for Big Finish. He enriched peripheral characters by writing full scenes for them that were only implied and cut down some of the more esoteric conversations that central characters have, creating a more balanced impression that the story takes place in a fully functioning universe. Additionally, Llewellyn restored the homoerotic content that Wilde and others had excised. Two characters are the greatest beneficiaries of his approach. The first is Basil Hallward (Marcus Hutton). Hallward paints the titular portrait, motivated largely by unrequited romantic love for Dorian Gray. The second is Alan Campbell (Ian Hallard), a doctor with whom Dorian Gray had an affair and whom Gray blackmails into helping remove all traces of Basil Hallward’s remains after Gray murders him.

This brings me to Dorian Gray himself, superbly played by Alexander Vlahos. Listeners actually get to hear him play two versions of Dorian Gray. The first is the original character created by Wilde, who narrates the two disk adaptation of his work. There’s an added bonus, however, on a third disk. The third disk contains behind-the-scenes material, including the first episode of The Confessions of Dorian Gray. According to interviews contained on the disk, The Confessions of Dorian Gray series predated the preceding dramatization of the source material. In the episode, Vlahos plays a version of Gray who didn’t die and who served as the inspiration for Wilde’s novel. Gray interacts with a dying Oscar Wilde in a poignant and dark story befitting both author and creation.

This is another brilliant entry in the Big Finish Classics series put together with obvious love. I give it a full 5 out of 5.

Score 5/5

Written By Raissa Devereux

Raissa Devereux became a life-long genre fan at the age of four when she first saw The Wizard of Oz at a screening at Arizona State University. Years later, she graduated from A.S.U. as an English major, History minor, Whovian, and Trekkie. Now a Florida transplant, she loves the opportunity Sci-Fi Pulse has given her to further explore space travel, time travel, masked heroes, gothic castles, and good yarns.
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