Dorian Gray actor Alexander Vlahos returns to tell some more tales. Stories that didn’t make it to production. These are therefore The Lost Confessions of Dorian Gray.
The Confessions of Dorian Gray. What initially started off as an experiment but expanded beyond its simple little concept. Encompassing its own series and lore, branching out into other series such as Sherlock Holmes and Dark Shadows (and causing a slight nightmare for canon enthusiasts), before forming part of the grand crossover epic The Worlds Of Big Finish. Simultaneously it cemented the names of both its creator Scott Handcock and its star Alexander Vlahos, into the echoing echelons of Big Finish’s legacy forevermore.
Then, on a damp grey Halloween morning in 2016, it all ended. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Not in a bad way, but the way both creator and star wanted it to. Final. Definite. Done.
So, how have we found ourselves here?
Well, after Messrs Handcock and Vlahos found themselves missing doing the series, but not wanting to overturn their decided finale, they soon came across three of Handcock’s unproduced scripts. With the help of writer Scott Harrison, they decided to adapt them into audiobook form. One last trip into the world of the immortal hedonist. So are these lost treasures, or should these stories have remained buried and undisturbed?
The Lost Confessions
Dorian Gray is dead. After being manipulated by the forces of Lucifer himself, his lover stolen away, and driven mad by a world where he cannot tell fact from fiction, Gray is no more, and now takes his journey to the undiscovered country. But there are many other stories of his long life than we have been made aware of. Tales from the trenches of the First World War, to the social scene of 1930’s London, and even the far future in a world that could have been, or should have been, or even might be. These are the lost confessions of Dorian Gray. And may his soul, and those who learn of his tales, be protected from what is to come…
The first thing you’ll notice is that these are readings rather than full cast productions. However, given that the series has primarily been a healthy mix of narration and full cast drama, this move is not out of the realms of normality for the series. These are full on audiobooks, complete with chapters. It would be one thing to consider before committing to this release, so what is waiting for listeners?
Last Man Standing and There Are Such Things…
Last Man Standing sees Dorian in the midst of the First World War, on a mission of utmost importance for the British Empire. With a loyal soldier by his side, they journey to destroy a deadly weapon the enemy has obtained. The question is, will they destroy it, or will it destroy them? There Are Such Things… has the immortal hedonist doing something he should have done long ago; confess. Recalling his enjoying the height of London’s social life, Dorian’s mind is brought back to a loving old friend. One who he wants to remember in the best of ways. But something has ruined those memories, and wants more to ruin…
These first two tales show that the series is still as engaging as ever. Drawing us into the world of the moral-less Dorian Gray, reminding us who he is, what he has done and what he is capable of. The tales themselves are expertly crafted and are a pleasure to listen to. That said, if you have heard all of Dorian Gray’s escapades, you might have found out why these might not have been originally done; they sound a bit similar to some other tales. However, without wishing to get into further details and potential spoilers, despite some similarities, they are unique enough to stand on their own feet. They would have made for interesting full cast episodes.
The Last Confession
Finally, The Last Confession. Dorian Gray exploring the stars, a far cry from the rooted world that he knew when his life changed forever. He has his soul, he should be happy. But the one who should share his life is gone. Taken by the very dealer that changed Dorian’s life. All he has now are his crew and the stars. But is this real life? Is this just fantasy? One thing’s for sure, he will need to face both his reality and his nightmares, now truly one and the same… One last time… One last confession….
Now we come to the real reason we are here; the original finale. Handcock’s original farewell to the series. You could not get a more different story to the finale we received three years ago. To get into specifics would deny listeners the many twists, revelations and callbacks. But what can be said is that it’s understandable why this finale was first considered. This would likely have allowed the series to rest and come back after some time. Simply, this was the end of Dorian’s arc, leaving the door open to come back. Ever After however was a way to close off the series for good. Whilst Handcock and Vlahos may still stand by that decision, it would have been interesting to have heard this finale in its place.
It is still a brilliant entry to the series and has moment upon moment of brilliantly conceived moments (including proof that if Big Finish ever do a full on Star Trek series, Scott Handcock NEEDS to showrun it).
Alexander Vlahos performs…
Lastly, the voice that brings these stories to life. Alexander Vlahos, the immortal Dorian Gray himself, just jumps straight back into the role. It’s no surprise really for someone who made the role his own for so long. As a narrator, Vlahos is someone you could listen to reading the phone book and it would be time well spent. It’s hard to find another way to describe his skill that hasn’t already been covered in previous reviews.
Assisting Vlahos, Robert Harvey’s score and minimal but effective sound design are spot on, following a previous collaboration with Handcock on the Big Finish Original Blind Terror. As these are readings, a score isn’t crucial and sound design perhaps less so, but when they are needed, Harvey’s work heightens every moment with ease.
There is no mistake that Scott Handcock’s flair can be felt throughout these three tales. The two Scott’s have breathed a new life into these three tales, each one different from the last. Vlahos’ fantastic delivery and Harvey’s sterling sound work excels this set from a simple coda or afterthought, to a necessity for fans of the series. If this is the last we hear of Dorian Gray, then it is more of a grand note to end on.
Dorian Gray: The Lost Confessions is available now, exclusively to download from the Big Finish Website.
Three brand-new readings of unmade stories from The Confessions of Dorian Gray.
1. Last Man Standing
France, 1915. After being dispatched on a top-secret mission with his comrade, Jonathan Roberts, Captain Gray finds himself lost in the wastes of No Man’s Land searching for a concealed German outpost. As both men venture further from the trenches, they soon discover forces greater than king and country.
2. There Are Such Things…
England, 1930. Father Victor Merriman is confused when a bedraggled young man locks him inside his own church on a dark and stormy night. The man claims not to be locking them in, but rather to be locking something out: something that has haunted Dorian Gray for over a year now, ever since the engagement of Milly Lloyd.
3. The Last Confession
The Future. Since his experience at the Brigadoon Hotel, Dorian Gray struggles to come to terms with having a soul; and worse, having lost his soulmate. Travelling the world, he hopes to lay some demons to rest… and perhaps even confront the biggest one of all?
This download-only release includes a bonus 15-minute interview with Alexander Vlahos and Scott Handcock, the Lost Confessions Music Suite, and an audio commentary for The Confessions of Dorian Gray: The Heart That Lives Alone.
- Narrator: Alexander Vlahos
- Cover Artist: Stuart Manning
- Director: Scott Handcock
- Executive Producers: Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
- Music: Robert Harvey
- Producer: Scott Handcock
- Script Editor: Scott Handcock
- Sound Design: Robert Harvey
- Written by: Scott Harrison
- Based on scripts by Scott Handcock