London: Some things are more precious because they don’t last long, wrote Oscar Wilde in his haunting masterpiece about Dorian Gray, a handsome young gentleman corrupted by hedonistic values.
Perhaps the Victorian playwright had an inkling of what Sarah Snook might one day bring to a one-woman adaption of his novel, which debuted on Tuesday night (Wednesday AEDT) for a limited 14-week season at London’s 900-seat Theatre Royal Haymarket.
If the Australian actor, elevated to a household name through her award-winning portrayal of Shiv Roy in HBO’s Succession, was already at the top of her game, this performance will likely help catapult her into global theatre stardom.
On a rainy winter’s evening, Snook drew in her West End audience from the opening scene and held them captive for two hours. They laughed and gasped, cheered and applauded. They stood for five or so minutes at the end as Snook, who looked mentally drained and physically exhausted, waved to an adoring audience.
“Amazing, just amazing,” they yelled. It was, as several of those in attendance later remarked out loud, like nothing they’d ever seen before. Tickets are already among the hottest in town.
There were, as expected when undertaking such a giant task, the occasional misstep along the way. The odd fumbled line and stumble, including missing a chair entirely while attempting to sit down. But Snook’s comic brilliance, seen in her infectious laugh and smile, helped her recover with ease. Over the course of the show, she gave the audience so much that they were only too willing to give back.
After conquering audiences and dazzling critics in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, Kip William’s adaption of The Picture of Dorian Gray is now poised to get the international acclaim it so thoroughly deserves.
Produced in London by theatre juggernaut Michael Cassel Group, it will almost certainly also be the biggest commercial success in the Sydney Theatre Company’s 45-year history. It has chosen the perfect UK home. On the walls of the third-oldest London playhouse still in use is a plaque honouring Wilde, who premiered his comedy A Woman of No Importance on the very same stage in April 1893.