WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE IS SOMETHING INCREDIBLY ADDICTIVE, AND HEARTBREAKING
To paraphrase Lemony Snicket, “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better of looking somewhere else.” That would be an optimum way of describing the story of this series’ titular character. Behind the scenes, however, would be the perfect description of a story with a happy ending. It’s a story that started all the way back in 2011, with the release of Bernice Summerfield: Legion. It’s the story of an actor and a director, who took a simple idea and ran with it and created something incredible. This is the story of Scott Handcock, Alexander Vlahos and The Confessions of Dorian Gray…
In 1890, renowned socialite and writer, Oscar Wilde, published his only written novel, The Picture Of Dorian Gray. It told of power, lust, hedonism, and a desire to remain forever youthful. But that’s just a story….. isn’t it?
If only that were true. Dorian Gray is real. He has lived through the events transcribed in Wilde’s novel and further, well through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. Along that time, he has indulged in many pleasures, fought many battles and defeated many entities of the supernatural. But as he continues on, he will discover that he is not alone. And that soon, his dealer will be waiting for him…
To say that this was good would be an understatement. It would be near impossible to explain, in such a short passage, how good this series is. Nevertheless, here is that attempt. Just about every single episode in this entire series is good. Many perfect, all good, some better than others, but none are bad. None of the 30 normal episodes, the five specials, the crossover episode in The Worlds Of Big Finish, the Big Finish Classic adaptation or the two minisodes are a bore to listen to. Every last episode has been done with a brilliant attention to detail and understanding of the mythos. From David Llewellyn to Roy Gill, from James Goss to Gary Russell, from Cavan Scott to Joe Lidster, not to mention both the creator and lead actor themselves contributing scripts, every episode is an epic piece of drama that pulls the rug out from under you with what you thought was possible on audio, all down to the genius that is director and showrunner Scott Handcock. And that final episode….. nothing can prepare you for that….
As for casting….. where can one begin with the casting in this series? Essentially, if one gets to the point where actors from other ranges WANT DESPERATELY to be in your series, then it would be safe to assume that you have done something right. Across the five series and countless specials, listeners are graced to a whole host of familiar and brilliant voices, from Hugh Skinner, to Nick Briggs, David Warner, Tracey Childs, Hugh Ross, Lalla Ward, Sarah Douglas (from Superman II), Miles Richardson, Katy Manning, Colin Baker, Samuel Barnett, Sophie Aldred, the list can just go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and you get the point! But every last one of them not only brings their all to whichever episode they appear in, but they are so good at it, the game of “I remember them from…” escapes from the listeners mind as one becomes engrossed in the tale.
But the highlight of this series has to be from the main man himself. Alexander Vlahos (Versailles, Merlin, Prisoner Zero) performs every scene he is in, every line he utters, so perfectly that any listener can be forgiven for forgetting that they are listening to an actor rather than the perfect personification of Dorian Gray. When you make people forget that you are merely an actor rather than the character you play, that is when someone truly understands the role, and Vlahos not only understands Gray, but he breathes him in every last word spoken.
It Sounds All So Real
With a series heavily set in both the supernatural and horror genre, creating music and designing sound that matches and evokes their respective scenes would be a daunting task for many. But composer James Dunlop and sound designer Neil Gardner do more than rise to the challenge, they excel at it. Gardner manages to make everything sound real and terrifying, whilst Dunlop’s music succeeds in evoking every last pick on the ranges of emotions the listeners experience when hearing this masterpiece.
Within the space of around five years, Messrs Handcock and Vlahos took a small idea and bloomed it into something amazing. ‘The Confessions of Dorian Gray’ has become an absolute phenomenon, turning into Big Finish’s own cult classic. As was said before, “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better of looking somewhere else.” If you are interested in stories that showcase drama, horror and the greatest abilities of actors, writers, directors, musicians and the like in one utterly glorious package, this is the best example you will find.
BLOGTOR RATING: 10/10: It doesn’t matter that this isn’t Doctor Who, this cries out to be listened to, and deserves every last bit of your attention.
BIG FINISH – THE CONFESSIONS OF DORIAN GRAY SERIES 01-05 PLUS SPECIALS ARE AVAILABLE NOW FROM THE BIG FINISH WEBSITE.