JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE FRIENDS OF MISS DORIAN GRAY at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 8.3.14.
2 stars **
THIS WEEK’s Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime drama at Oran Mor comes with the strongest of pedigrees. It’s written by Marcella Evaristi, whose name has been a byword for sharp contemporary writing about modern manners and morals for the last 35 years. It has an impressive cast, featuring the wonderful Janette Foggo and the tireless Tom McGovern. And it deals with a significant 21st century theme – the cult of permanent youth, and the exploitative beauty industry that thrives on it – framed by a fine existing story, Oscar Wilde’s Picture Of Dorian Gray.
Between the idea and the performance, though, something goes wrong wit the Friends Of Miss Dorian Gray. Perhaps it’s the structure, which never lets us see the improbably youthful 50-year-old performance artist Dorian, around whom the story revolves. Perhaps it’s Evaristi’s decision to cast herself as Dorian’s sceptical friend Dolores, delivering every line in heavy defensive quotation marks. Perhaps it’s her tendency to use dialogue as a delivery mechanism for painstakingly-drafted bon mots, rather than letting it tell its own story. Whatever the problem, though, this is one of those Oran Mor plays where the execution is as tedious as the idea is interesting; despite the fact that Evaristi herself, in an eerie echo of the play’s theme, looks much the same as she did three decades ago, when her name first hit the Scottish theatrical headlines.