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Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Matthew Bourne continues to astound with this modern retelling of the Oscar Wilde classic. He cleverly draws parallels with between the main theme of youth and our celebrity obsessed culture, reality television and the paparazzi, yet retains the essence of the original story.

The picture in the attic does not really remain. Instead we get a doppelganger but it could just as easily be a candid photograph in Heat magazine, as this is as modern and as good as dance gets.

Richard Winsor’s Dorian Gray is hungry and ready for the adventure of his life. Snapped up as the new face of a Calvin Klein style ad campaign, Gray finds fame fast and leads a hedonistic lifestyle where anything goes.

One of the most stunning scenes features Winsor dancing up a storm with Jason Piper (as Basil the photographer), as the two woo each other, shedding their clothes and their inhibitions through the power of Bourne’s meticulous movement.

Michela Meazza has a touch of a silent Kristin Scott Thomas about her as the femme fatale Lady H and her scenes are striking due to her flamingo style moves. Jared Hageman is also impressive as Gray’s double; a constant reminder of what lies beneath the glossy exterior.

The music is stunning, as at times it is eerie, exhilarating and epic in scope. It helps that we are treated to a live band as well as pre-recorded music. This adds depth to this highly ambitious dance piece.

With playful swipes at traditional ballet, the concept of celebrity, fame, youth and even Four Poofs and A Piano,  Bourne’s innovative version of Dorian Gray almost ticks all of the boxes. Lez Brotherston's adaptable set, for example highlights the empty lives, away from the glitter and gold via a clever revolve, with surprises at every turn.

Bourne’s choreography is as breathtaking as you have come to expect, but for me, a narrative as vast as this needs more ensemble pieces, but unfortunately it relies on repetitious scenes between two dancers, slowing the pace slightly, particularly during act two.

Although, the performers themselves are incredibly athletic and come to life during the nightclub scenes which stay in your memory for a long time. Domnic North and Christopher Marnet shine and never fade into the background and aesthetically speaking, this show has it all in abundance.

There are some minor flaws, but what remains is a sexy, provocative and timely reboot of a classic, kicked into touch by the UK’s very own lord of the dance. 


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