Imagine if you will, that you regularly hang out with a certified genius. A man you love, and who loves you so that he bases his magnus opus greatly on you, and the group of friends you share. Now imagine that what binds you as a group is illegal, your own upbringing makes it out as a sin and said magnus opus will bring attention to your group. Finally imagine, that after said genius releases his book, he abandons your own art for another man. If you can imagine that, you have an idea of the pressures and problems Patrick McBride bring to his portrayal of John Gray in The Picture Of John Gray at the Old Red Lion Theatre.
The story centres on John Gray, talented poet and former muse to Oscar Wilde, as he navigates the complex world and Victorian sexuality and repressions. Thrown into the mix are Charles’ lovers and friends to the group. Add the love of John‘s life and his rival for Wilde‘s affection Bosie. Conspicious by his absence is Wilde himself, a stroke of playwriting genius.
The standard of acting in the play is high, portraying the intimate love stories subtly and with plenty of humour. The two unforeseen forces constantly influence them, the love of Oscar Wilde and his eventual trial. If there is a complaint it is that the story does seem to wrap up rather neatly in the final scene. It might be a matter of preference, but the seeming end scene earlier felt righter. In some ways this play is a metaphor for Wilde himself, witty, utterly charming and somehow a little dangerous. Missing this would be a grave mistake.
Review written by Ingimar Sverrisson.
The Picture of John Gray is currently showing at the Old Red Lion Theatre until Saturday 30th August. For more information on the production, visit here…
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