Review: Pictures Of Dorian Gray, The McCarthy, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, until tomorrow. Box office: 01723 370541 or at

NOTE the title: Pictures Of Dorian Gray, not The Picture Of Dorian Gray. This plurality means you can have more than one Wilde time in the company of Tom Littler’s cast of four, Richard Keightley, Helen Reuben, Augustina Seymour and Stanton Wright.

To explain, not only does the portrait of handsome young Dorian keep changing, so too does Jermyn Street Theatre’s casting for different performances, giving you a choice of four versions over the SJT’s world premiere run.

In a nutshell, you can see it with a male Dorian and male Wotton; a male Dorian with a female Wotton; female Dorian with male Wotton; and female Dorian with female Wotton. This fluidity is very much on trend; be it Tessa Parr’s Hamlet at Leeds Playhouse this spring or Maggie Bain’s Henry V in this summer’s Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre in York.

You are invited to “choose your Picture of Dorian Gray” in the hope you may come back to see a second version for just £10.

In the case of the multiple possibilities of Alan Ayckbourn’s witty and wise Intimate Exchanges with its eight stories and 16 possible endings, you want to keep going back, but on the evidence of one encounter with Dorian – the female Dorian and male Wotton one – you won’t be in a hurry to return for more.

“The Dorian Gray story – about narcissism, wanting to keep our youth, projecting our image into the world – is one of our time,” suggests Littler.

“And it is very much about seduction and corruption and power dynamics. None of those things feel limited to just men!” True, but when the lighting, the costumes and the mirrors are a show’s best attributes, something is amiss.

You are promised Oscar Wilde’s glittering wit and the pulse-raising pace of a thriller in Lucy Shaw’s new adaptation, but the wit goes missing, the pulse stays steady. The only narcissism here is an experiment deludedly in love with its far too pretentious self.

Charles Hutchinson