Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Dorian Gray: Heart and Soul written by Cavan Scott and directed by Scott Handcock

What's it about: A reluctant Dorian finds himself drawn to a sinister circus, where a mythical creature is drawing the public to their deaths. Cost of entry: one human heart, each night…

The Painted Man: The last time Dorian saw he turned to ashes in his arms so the idea of him just turning up out of the blue was so off the cards that he is genuinely shocked at the revelation. That was thirty years ago now and so much has happened in that time, so much that he longed to have shared with his lost love. Toby must have truly gotten under Dorian's skin because the recount of his former lovers transformation into a vampire and his relationship with Toby turns him into a spiteful, jealous man. Paradoxically the circus turns him into a complete child, the energy and atmosphere bringing him alive like never before.

Standout Performance: It's the accent, it must be. I could listen to Shaun Biggerstaff until I calcify because of that rich Scottish accent of his. Alexander Vlahos' silky tones into the mix and I'm pretty much screwed for half an hour.

Sparkling Dialogue: 'You were never a means to an end, Tobias. That was Dorian's role.'

Great Ideas: The big mystery of this story is who has resurrected Toby and why? Naturally he is still feeding on the living but this time he is accompanied by Ivor who he met in 1724. A circus came to town and Toby was forbidden to go which just made the prospect of all the lights and colour and spectacle all the more enticing. Ivor had the least glamorous job possible, mucking out the animals but there was something about him that drew Toby in. Tobias had a terrible accident and Ivor offered him the choice between the end of everything or eternal life and in a moment of panic he chose the latter. A decision that would change his life forever. Ivor is slaved to a siren, one that craves a human heart still beating each day. They have a pact, a blood looks after him and he returns the favour.

Audio Landscape: Ticking clock, footsteps, banging, the atmosphere of a circus, heartbeat, a growling bear, giving coins, shooting cans, chewing on a heart.

Isn't it Odd: Laura Doddington's siren failed on practically every level for me. Not remotely sexual or enticing, merely a bit annoying. I can't think what lured Ivor in in the first place.

Standout Scene: I'm not the biggest fan of dream sequences anyway but I did find that the one that saw Dorian awash on a sea of madness failed to spooked or entice me. Coming from the steady directorial hand of Scott Handcock, that surprises me.

Result: What is it about Cavan Scott and vampires? He can't get enough of them! This almost feels like a series of missed opportunities. It isn't quite the 'three's a crowd' gay romance that it wants to be, or a vampire tale or a sinister circus tale. It is juggling all three elements and feels oddly cumbersome for a Dorian tale. What it does get very right is the characterisation of Dorian, Toby and Ivor and the performances that go with them. Whilst I could invest in the emotional aspect of the tale, I never quite got a hang on the story itself which felt as though it didn't really get going. At 30 minutes long these Dorian vignettes need to get straight to the point but this serves as more of a prelude to the two part finale than a story in its own right. I don't think this series could ever deliver anything less than satisfactory but this story Echoes vie for the weakest of the year. I could think of a few ways that this story could have been improved (jettisoning Laura Doddington for example) but it's still above average Dorian fare for it's willingness to push the adult material to the fore. The pay off that links Pandora and Heart and Soul (Dorian receiving his hearts desire) makes it worthwhile: 6/10

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