06/11/2019 - 08/11/2019
Handsome, young, and highly successful urban contemporary artist Dorian is holding his seminal exhibition ‘WE ARE BEAUTY’. Predictably, “some people” just don’t understand what true beauty really is. Philistines.
Will Dorian be able to show them the path to enlightenment, or will they continue in their ignorant ways?
Local talent, Kelsie Morland, brings us a debut play that challenges the media’s perception of body image.
Venue: The Meteor
Date: 6th / 7th / 8th November
Review by Gail Pittaway 07th Nov 2019
A new ensemble, the Mirrored Stage Theatre Company, brings this new play to life very pleasingly, giving a new grouping of talent with some seasoned and other new players. Heavily referencing Oscar Wilde’s novella, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Kelsie Morland’s play is set at the opening of an art exhibition. Called ‘We are Beauty’, the exhibition consists of images created by Dorian, the host, who seems obsessed with beauty which is only skin deep.
It’s a simple yet effective set, with empty gold picture frames against black backdrop curtains, and the occasional view taken out into the audience for a studied glance, as if at more images. The play unfolds as, one by one, characters enter the gallery and interact with their host, whose energy and interest verges on the creepy as she/he interrogates them over their looks and private lives.
There’s the gloriously inked Astrid, who won’t take on Dorian’s world view and stomps out after a fierce debate, then the very timid Belle, a student who allows Dorian to give her tips on makeup but has to run off to meet her mum.
There’s a shift of energy as Beau enters, larger than life and unwilling to move from his own arrogant stance on the world. This interaction moves the play from earnest debate into comedy and gives, along with the laughter, a stronger sense of satire behind the play.
Then Elly arrives, waiting to meet her boyfriend, and she too challenges Dorian’s obsession with model looks and perfect skin. There’s a clear attraction and tension built between the two but, when Aidan appears in sloppy jumper and uncut hair, Dorian goes too far in criticising his looks alone, creating some strong sparks of conflict.
It’s a very well-acted ensemble piece and moves along slickly, though the pace is a little too static – with few surprises as we wait for each new person to enter, to be judged by Dorian’s exacting standards. However, the arguments between characters are entertaining and strong. Dorian is presumably played by Kelsie Moreland (but there is no programme to confirm) and is a fine performer, exuding the character’s confidence and outrageous point of view with conviction.
I’d like to see more of the group mingling together, as people do at exhibitions. Also, it irks that characters regularly refer to the whole exhibition as ‘exhibit’ which usually only refers to one piece. Though as there are a few clues to indicate that Dorian didn’t know as much about art as about being impressed by media trends, perhaps this is deliberate.
Finally, call me pernickety, but the upstage but significant mirror could do with a squirt of glass cleaner as the visible (to the audience) dust and smears distract from the point of it being Dorian’s favourite portrait.
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