Mark Fisher meets Rupert Everett who stars in a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
The Citizens' Theatre seems to have an unstated policy that if a writer produces good plays. the chances are his novels will work on stage too. Giles Havergal recently took this approach with PG. Wodehouse. and now director and designer Philip Prowse is doing the same with Oscar Wilde. But ﬂick through The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde's ‘poisonous’ first novel, and you'll see in its heavy reliance on dialogue and clearly-plotted scene setting that it‘s virtually a blueprint for a play anyway. Chop out some of that extraneous description and you have an instant script on your hands. Considered outrageous in its day, The Picture ofDorian Gray is half horror story, half morality tale. telling the story of a beautiful young man who retains the gift of eternal youth, while his portrait and those around him grow old. Suffused with Wilde‘s epigrammatic wit - several lines crop up again word for word in Lad)“ Windermere 's Fan and A Woman of No lmportanee — the novel has the same dazzling intelligence and unashamed
~ almost synonymous with the Citizens‘ output.
1 Heartbreak House (I985) and The
decadence that characterise the plays that followed, and that have become
Playing Lord Henry Wotton. the I erudite. subversive ﬁgure who i befriends and inﬂuences the young : (and ever-young) Dorian Gray. is I Rupert Everett. a familiar face from i many Prowse productions notably i
Vortex (1988). who claims that the Citizens' is about the only theatre in which he is interested in acting. ‘Philip l
Prowse is a great friend of mine,’ he
says in a backstage dressing room after i the day's rehearsal. ‘We've always
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worked together and I really admire his work. I‘m not mad keen on theatre in general. but 1 really like this theatre. I like the stuff they do up here. I like the atmosphere.‘
Having not long completed the lead role in a Russian movie. Quiet Flows the Don. to be released at the end of the year. and being lined up to play a cemetery keeper in an Italian-made film after his stint at the Citz. Everett was keen to squeeze in a return to Glasgow, a city for which he has much affection. ‘I really do whatever comes along that interests me.‘ he says. admitting to being in the midst of writing his second novel. a follow-up to last year’s Hello Darling. Are You Working I). ‘I don‘t have any panicular rules to go by. I
don‘t think they're worth having. because you have to be malleable to whatever might be going on. I wanted very much to come and do something up here, and it’s a story that I like.‘ Even 100 years on, the ideas and opinions of Lord Henry Wotton can be startling and provocative. Wilde has imbued this character with an uncrring tendency to counteract the prevailing social mores and to do so with a style that is persuasively smart. ‘It is quite shocking.‘ agrees Everett. ‘People say incredibly shocking things. It‘s very hard-edged and my character is a shocking character. He questions every single accepted idea. which is a really good starting point to play a character.‘ A contemporary audience is unlikely to be as upset. however. as Wilde's initial critics who failed to find favour with its ‘constant hints at disgusting sins and abominable crimes’. and who
Rupert Everett ’ presumably failed to appreciate his maverick sense of humour. ‘The particular wit of my character is very funny.‘ says Everett. ‘but at the same time he enlarges on things in a very complicated way. The difficulty with Wilde's writing is that a lot of it is ideas. The character I‘m playing is Wilde himself in a way. and he throws around ideas a great deal. The challenge is to make those ideas into reality; make it a drama rather than a radio discourse on ideas. The challenge is to find a way to make people continue to listen to it. If there are too many ideas. it is very difficult for a audience to follow. so you have to really make contact with them. That‘s a challenge which I enjoy.’ A Pieture o/‘I)orian Gray. Citizens" Theatre. Glasgow. Fri 19 Feb—Sun [4 Mar.
'1 ‘11 e
TUESDAY 23 FE}
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45 The List 12—25 February 1993