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Dorian: Lichfield Review

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
New Play Explores The Search For The Perfect Body
Oscar Wilde's classic horror tale of Dorian Gray, and the painting in his attic which prevents him from ageing, is given a contemporary makeover in this thought-provoking new play. The supernatural element is taken out of Wilde's masterpiece by writer Andrew McMillan, but the essential theme of what many of us are prepared to sacrifice to look good and beautiful remains very much at the heart of his modern work of Dorian, which was performed at the Lichfield Garrick theatre.

Dorian, Proper Job Theatre
Dorian exlores the issue of body image, with Elizabeth Harborne as Sarah

Produced by Proper Job Theatre Company as part of its Monster Trilogy, which previously resulted in a re-telling of the Nosferatu and Medusa legends, Dorian explores the themes of male vanity, gym culture, masculinity and body dysmorphia. Dorian, splendidly played by Rick Ferguson, is a 54-year-old man desperate to 'move on' with his life following the loss of his wife who turns to personal trainer Harry to help transform his body in the gym. But the computerised photo of what Dorian could look like with effort, created by 'image optimisation expert' Sarah, becomes an increasingly obsessive goal for Dorian to try to achieve.

Dorian, Proper Job Theatre
Rick Ferguson in the lead role of Dorian, with Elzabeth Harborne.

At the same time, Sarah's musical partner - and Dorian's son - Sam is challenged to put body image above the music when it comes to producing a video of them performing. In the case of the central storyline, Dorian gradually begins to worship his enhanced body image as he takes too long to get there by his gym workouts, while Sam spirals into a sea of depression - although the play's relatively short duration did not allow this to be fully explored. However this may come at a later date as Proper Job plan to follow the currrent studio tour with a mid-scale tour in the autumn once they have developed the piece.

Dorian, Proper Job Theatre
Tim Cunningham as the troubled Sam in Dorian

Dorian, which comes with a minimum age limit of 16, presumably due to the swearing, benefits from an excellent cast, with Rick joined by Chris Casey as Harry, Elizabeth Harborne as Sarah, and Tim Cunningham as Sam. It is also well directed by James Beale and produced by Chloe Whitehead.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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Why? Insightful play into body image and beauty first
When: 8 March 2019
Phone: 01543 412121
Where: Lichfield Garrick, Castle Dyke, Lichfield WS13 6HR
Cost: Tickets cost 15
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