The Picture of Dorian Gray (review)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (review)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (review)
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THE PLAY: A one-man show taken from the text of Oscar Wilde’s noted novel.


THE PRODUCTION: Since I’m reviewing the first live stream of this show, I’ll discuss the production itself before addressing the streaming (although it greatly undermined the experience).


Billy Christopher Maupin reads the descriptive sections from a book, while acting out the interactions between people. Since he plays all of the roles, it’s vital that the audience has a clear understanding of who’s speaking. Some of Maupin’s characters displayed little variation in characterization or delivery, which sometimes made it hard to discern who was involved. Even so, his assured presence sustained attention and created a few dramatic moments. Director Shirley Kagan’s staging was routine and the measured pacing kept the show from ever achieving any dramatic momentum. Edwin Slipek’s set featured a stylized version of London with a few pieces of furniture, most notably a chair covered in a variety of fabrics (none of them adding any information about the location). It wasn’t possible to judge the lighting and sound design because of the poor quality streaming.


As for that, this first venture was a disaster. First, there was endless buffering (the spinning wheel that indicates that the show is loading). Not only is this distracting, but it was nearly impossible to follow the narrative. Making matters worse was the low resolution output with murky video and muffled audio (made worse by placing the mic on Maupin’s shirt where it was occasionally hit by costumes or his breath). The camerawork was sometimes sloppy, mostly in medium or wide shots, depriving us of close-ups of Maupin. Instead of cutting between shots, they dissolved and dissolves imply a transition (like passing of time) and they didn’t work for this. Hopefully, they’ll be able to improve the quality before the next outing.


Maupin did manage one reference to his current situation when he read the line “the theatre was crowded” with an ironic nod to his live audience of 2. Speaking of, there are numerous safety precautions in place, including assigned bathrooms and entrance/exit times. Visit the website for more information. Running time: 2:30


THE POINT: Even though Maupin’s performance was confident, this bold experiment was marred by the flawed streaming.


1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)


At Firehouse Theatre thru 8/7


Photos by Tom Topinka

1 Comment

  1. Having seen this performed live, I personally think that this production is worthy of much higher than 1 star. While it is unfortunate that you had some difficulties viewing the live stream, it would be unfair to assume that all of those difficulties were caused by the Firehouse production and not by problems with a personal internet connection. I would have like to see more of the review focus on the quality of the performance of Billy-Christopher Maupin which was brilliant when I saw the production in person. I had absolutely no problem following the production and always understood what characters were being portrayed. Viewing a live performance would perhaps allow you to make a much fairer assessment as to the overall quality of the production. As to the live-streaming effort, it should be viewed as nothing short of heroic and pioneering. I am sure that it will do nothing but vastly improve with each performance.

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