PUBLISHED: 11:59 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 August 2010
MATTHEW Bourne s latest astonishing and compelling production certainly proves how the beautiful can turn very, very ugly, writes Kate Mead.
MATTHEW Bourne's latest astonishing and compelling production certainly proves how the beautiful can turn very, very ugly, writes Kate Mead.
Based loosely on Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bourne's production which broke box office records at the Edinburgh Festival, sets off on its first major tour after opening at The Churchill, Bromley.
After far fluffier (almost literally) characters such as the all-male cygnets in his Swan Lake and the loveable freak Edward Scissorhands, Bourne and his team have created their first monster, an anti-hero whose physical aesthetic belies a soul of greed, vanity and corruption.
Richard Winsor is the gorgeous Dorian whose photogenic face is discovered by Basil Hallward (Jason Piper) and made famous by Lady H (Michela Meazza).
Winsor's incredible movement transforms from his shy and timid former self to one worthy of a supermodel, oozing confidence both in the studio and the bedroom.
While Dorian can have his pick of the ladies, and men, he becomes embroiled in a complicated ménage a quatre with the powerfully seductive Lady H, the egoist performer Cyril Vane (Christopher Marney) and perhaps his most honest and true partner Basil.
In some electric love scenes, the true nature of these relationships blossom - showing the chaotic passion of Basil, the seductive power of Lady H and the needy emotion of Cyril.
As Dorian seems to be more corrupted by his fame, he is haunted by his doppelganger (Jared Hageman) tormenting him by reminding him that there will always be someone younger just around the corner.
Alongside this, with reference to cosmetic surgery, celebrity, sexual freedom, PR, groupies and the obsession with being your own beautiful brand, the performance was filled to the rafters with comment - though not one word was uttered.
And there was even time to cram in the odd nod to Bourne's classic predecessors as Dorian wakes to the classical riff of Sleeping Beauty and is a member of the audience of a plodding Covent Garden production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet.
But a starkly ultramodern design by Lez Brotherston - of metallic studios and clinically white rooms and characters dressed in uniform power suits - harks to the future instead of the past, whispering a grim warning of a world where aesthetic over substance is the norm.
* For more information on the UK and European tour, go to http://www.new-adventures.net/doriangray/tour.