BLOG The Confessions Of Dorian Gray 2: The Houses In Between REVIEW

The Confessions Of Dorian Gray

2: The Houses In Between

Starring Alexander Vlahos, Lorna Rose Harris, Gary Russell, Rebecca Newman, James Goss
Written by Scott Harrison
Directed by Scott Handcock
Available from www.bigfinish.com • £2.99

Big Finish’s Dorian Gray series is doing a fantastic job of not only saying true to the character but spinning him off in a very surprising, and still logical, direction. Oscar Wilde’s immortal hedonist has started to live longer than anyone should and he’s starting to see the world mortal people miss. The ghosts in the cracks of the world, and, with World War II raging through Europe and the Blitz at its height, those cracks are getting wider.

Scott Harrison’s story makes very clever use of the contrast between the London Dorian knew and the London he finds himself in. The opening scenes, of him wandering the blazing streets of London knowing no bomb will harm him, have that perfect combination of chilling and normal that really great British horror achieves, and Harrison builds on this image as the story begins to unfold. Dorian isn’t concerned with the mortal world, and, it seems, he isn’t alone. As Dorian digs further into the mystery he finds himself confronted with his past and a question that has on good answer; if he hates this existence so much, why is he struggling to survive? There are no easy answers and the eventual reveal of what’s going on is chilling, echoing Sapphire And Steel in its depiction of the cold things that live beneath the surface of the world. Nothing is easy in Dorian’s world, for him or the people who know him and the story uses a song to tie the two time periods together seamlessly.

The two leads are on great form too. Lorna Rose Harris brings brassiness, charm and fragility to the role of Rosina Sawyer, and her closing scenes in particular are chilling. A good young woman swept up and then aside by Dorian she’s a tragic figure whose played as anything but, a sinister force in Dorian’s world that could stand a second visit if the opportunity ever presents itself. Likewise, Alexander Vlahos, known to many readers as Mordred from Merlin, is superb as the leonine, increasingly frantic Dorian. Like Harris, he’s required to shift between two different time periods for the character and like her excels, the swaggering, arrogant Dorian of the past a stark contrast to the bitter, cautious figure of the present. He plays Dorian Gray as a man with nothing but time, and starting to realise what a horrible deal that is. The result is an electrifying central performance which, along with Harris’ excellent work and Harrison’s script makes this something very special.

“The Houses In Between” is a short, clever, wonderfully nasty piece of London gothic, which continues the strong course this series has already set. Packed with chilling imagery and a great central premise, it’s one of the best stories Big Finish has put out in 2012. Trust me, you’ll never look at musical hall theatre the same way again.

Alasdair Stuart