Wednesday, 27 August 2014

'The Picture of John Gray' Old Red Lion Theatre ****

If you could not travel up to Edinburgh this summer, and desperate to witness some fringe work, then look no further than the Old Red Lion Theatre and see their current production of C.J. Wilmann's innovative play, ‘The Picture of John Gray’. One found the performance displayed a heartfelt story of homosexual living in a world where it's frowned upon and unsurprisingly illegal to do so. ‘The Picture of John Gray’ is grounded on factual events during the summer of 1889 where their fabulous writer, Oscar Wilde commences an affair with a young man, who exudes loveliness. He instigated Wilde’s sexual fantasy, and decided to use his surname for the writer’s most infamous conception. However, this appreciation is destroyed as Wilde and John Gray's relationship is ended, which leaves John to begin his adult life, and for him to discover what profession he is called on to do. The play focuses around to passionate and secrecy that surround gay men during the late nineteenth century, and how romance develops from the most unlikely of pairings. The central protagonist, John Gray, an emerging poet discounts the conversation with literary critic, Andre Raffalovich as he disagrees with the critical reviews he has written. Nonetheless, the two soon settled the dissimilarities and romance strikes. During this time, Oscar Wilde has been found out about his illegal actions with men; John soon panics because he could be facing a jail sentence. Luckily enough for him, Andre decides that they should take a vacation to Berlin to forget all the issues that are occurring in United Kingdom. When they visit Rome after Berlin, John appears to have signed up to become a priest, meaning that the passion with him and Raffalovich is not destined to be due to religious obligations. Wilmann’s narrative is extraordinarily moving as he welcomes us to the realisation of gay life amongst Wilde’s array of male conquests, and the troubled situation that John has found himself in. Some elements left me with tears in my eyes as the dialogue is incredibly infectious. The performances by the company of ‘The Picture of John Gray’ were convincing and characterised with such panache. Patrick Walshe McBride is wonderful and central protagonist, John Gray. One found the emotional vulnerability he portayed indicated the man's need to find peace in himself. Christopher Tester is outstanding as the critic, Andre Raffalovich. He provided a splendid use of diction is performance when he attempted to comfort John in his breakdown. Jordan McCurrach and Oliver Allan were dazzling at as the art enthusiasts and makers, Charles Shannon and Charles Ricketts. Tom Cox was sublime as the incredibly pretentious Bosie. The direction by Gus Miller here is transcendent as he has directed a masterpiece of the production that conveyed the brutality of Oscar Wilde. Rosanna Vize’s design is excellent as we are transported to the atmosphere of a society that despises the acceptance of homosexuality. Overall I found the experience of ‘The Picture of John Gray’ to be a gracious one. Well worth a visit to this imitate space above a Public House.  

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