Stony Brook Pocket Theatre is preparing for its performance of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” a play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa based off of the novel written by Oscar Wilde.
“This show is not your average book club material,” Kristin Leadbetter, the director of Pocket Theatre’s production of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” joked. With a more modern twist on Wilde’s novel of the same name, this dark play takes place in an ’80s London setting. The show follows the story of Dorian Gray, a man who cannot age.
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a novel that premiered in 1890 little by little through a London magazine. The book was so vulgar that the editors had to cut out about 500 words from it before it could be published, yet the published version is still known for its vulgarity.
This production, written by Aguirre-Sacasa, is one of many plays derived from the story of Dorian Gray and emphasizes the consequences of vanity and self-obsession, as well as the dark side of humanity.
“We can acknowledge it and challenge it and hopefully overcome it, or we can let it eat us,” Leadbetter said.
The production team of this play has made it their job to get this point across to the audience.
Pocket Theatre will be performing “The Picture of Dorian Gray” on March 31, April 2, April 7 and April 9, all at 8pm at the Staller Center.
The production team has been working vigorously to make this script come to life. First conceptualizing the idea to do this play in late November, Leadbetter has put the majority of her time into making this production a possibility.
“I spent my winter break reading the script about 10 different times looking for different aspects,” she said.
Over the break, Leadbetter and the rest of the team would have meetings over Skype to discuss what had to get done in order for the rehearsal process to be able to start as soon as the spring semester began.
Leadbetter stresses that this is a show for mature audiences only. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” deals with delicate subjects, such as sexual violence. Aware of the delicate nature of bringing these issues to the audience’s attention, Leadbetter made careful directing decisions to ensure that when viewing this material being acted out on stage, it is clear that these actions are wrong and in no way acceptable.
Feminism is another subject that the play deals with. While this production mainly deals with male characters, the script includes several characters that portray different female stereotypes.
“I want to make sure we don’t see them as stereotypes, but as the real women that lie beneath whatever the script has,” Leadbetter said.
She has been working hard with her cast to make sure that the characters come off as real humans, as opposed to these stereotypes.
Leadbetter wants the audience members to walk away from the play more thoughtful than when they walked in. She said there is an important lesson to take from “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
“If we take a step back from just looking at ourselves and obsessing with our self-image, we could maybe see the very severe and extreme consequences of what vanity can do,” she said.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: STONY BROOK POCKET THEATRE