“To be forever young? Who would surrender that chance, what ever the consequences might be? I would give everything for that. I would give my very soul.” – Dorian Gray
19th Century English playwright, Oscar Wilde, wrote only one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is a work of exquisite beauty. Few writers of any era can match Wilde for his marvelous manipulation of the English language. And yet, there is something more, something almost autobiographical about this curious retelling of the Faust myth. An adherent to the pseudo-religion of aestheticism, a philosophy that worships beauty above all things, Wilde used The Picture of Dorian Gray to explore the breadth and depth of that peculiar faith. In the end Oscar Wilde, along with his creation, Dorian Gray, discovers that beauty is a gift, but only for a season. “The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish,” Lord Henry asserts. “Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets.” King Solomon, perhaps, said it better, “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.”
Playwright Mike Parker’s powerful new stage adaption, Oscar Wilde’s DORIAN GRAY, remains faithful to the sprit of Wilde’s original story but does take some literary license (we beg the forgiveness of all English Lit teachers, everywhere). The first and most striking change is the recasting of the genders of several pivotal characters, most notably that of Dorian Gray. In contemporary society it is not much of a challenge to show a man traveling down the road to perdition. Indeed, it is almost assumed that a man will become debauched and derelict if given half a chance. There is something more disturbing about the intentional degradation of the soul of a young woman.
Ultimately, Oscar Wilde’s DORIAN GRAY is all about sowing and reaping. And a lifeline in the darkness. And the choice whether to reach for it or not. As Wilde so eloquent wrote, “It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”
Oscar Wilde’s DORIAN GRAY
A stage play by Mike Parker
WordCrafts Theatrical Press
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5 m, 9 f.
FEE: $75 per performance