Carried out by actress Eryn Jean Norvill and constructed by a hardworking crew of camera-people (Babi Bertoldi, Zoltan Jonas, Sam Steinle, Josh Vellis, Sean Waite and Simon Croker) and technicians, The Image of Dorian Grey is an epic, formidable multimedia adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel.
Tailored and directed by Kip Williams, Dorian Grey is a maximalist expertise – providing costume adjustments, break up screens, and even some stay superimpositions, combining pre-recorded footage of characters with the stay performer.
A few of it feels just like the present’s ambitions run amok, however because the story proceeds, and the title character turns into extra indifferent from the world, that multiplicity of efficiency appears like Grey’s demons effervescent as much as destroy him.
Using a number of cameras onstage, filming Norvill from a number of angles, and projected on quite a lot of screens of varied sizes (which transfer across the stage in varied configurations) creates a multiplicity of pictures, fragmented collages of characters, piecing collectively a way of the character’s interiority.
One of many present’s most unusual features is its use of cinematic methods and processes – significantly its use of the close-up. Previously one of many main variations between the medium of theater and movie, having a projection of Norvill’s face permits for extra delicate efficiency selections, and produces an intimacy between the performer and the viewers.
What additionally stands out in regards to the manufacturing is its emphasis on digital camera motion over enhancing. Regardless of the variety of screens, transitions and completely different environments, enhancing – slicing pictures collectively – is prevented (per my recollection). Modifying is an inherently mental train – the juxtaposition of pictures are like numbers in an equation, which we put collectively to create new that means. Compared, digital camera motion, whether or not panning between characters or tilting up (or down) to register data, carries the potential for evoking emotional shifts, to recommend revelation, a shift in energy, or temper or intention.
When these diverse methods work, the present is an epic meditation on the completely different roles folks play, their inner conflicts, the blurry line between the non-public and public self, and the queer subtext underpinning Grey’s motivations and relationships (and one of many key examples of the present’s use of close-ups).
Central performer Eryn Jean Norvill manages a herculean process, not simply by way of juggling completely different characters (and costume adjustments), however in sustaining a method of efficiency that may work as a chunk of stay theater, whereas with the ability to register on digital camera with out having to regulate for the elevated scrutiny it permits.
I left the manufacturing fascinated by its building, and watching its transferring items come collectively. The video work (designed by David Bergman) is memorable, and collectively with lighting supervisor Nick Schlieper and composer-sound designer Clemence Williams, helps to take care of the ambiance of the piece.
I can not say I used to be moved by it.
There have been a couple of factors the place it felt just like the present was overtaken by its personal kind. Maybe that is the results of watching so many reveals made on the sniff of an oily rag, however there have been instances throughout the present the place I felt like there was not sufficient left for the viewers’s personal creativeness. There may be a lot use of screens, and pictures of characters appearing in different environments, that it begins to really feel overwrought, and begins to impede the affect of Norvill’s efficiency.
It additionally feels a little bit too literal – by the dint of being a solo piece, the present is already being narrated. I virtually wished the present turned smaller because it went alongside, changing into extra indifferent from actual props and units.
The folks I went with loved it, and I didn’t hate the expertise, however I did depart questioning the impact of the manufacturing’s ambition on the textual content. On the very least, as a merging of various media kinds and languages, it’s a textual content price experiencing.
The Picture of Dorian Gray performs Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre 18th to the twenty fifth of March 2023 as a part of the Auckland Arts Competition.