The Maskers' Studio Theatre

6th - 11th March 2023

Friday performance at 8pm, other performances at 7:30pm.

This play contains adult content and some scenes may be upsetting.
Only for age 14 years and older.

Warning: This production has strobe lighting, sudden & loud sounds, and the use of non-allergenic haze

He sold his soul for eternal youth


The Reviews


6 March 2023

Doran Gray, perhaps without realising it contains many of Oscar Wilde’s greatest hits of quotes, and it was nice to be reminded in this stark production of the famous work adapted by Paul Stebbings. This allows much of Wilde’s words to literally take centre stage.
Director Paul Green tells us in an informative set of notes in the programme, which I would recommend reading, that “There are natural scenes but even those use elements of stylised movement”. Reference is made to Grotowski Theory which in essence is “the Theatre that values the body of the actor and its relation with the spectator and does away with costumes décor and music”.
Whilst not doing away entirely with these elements, it means an eschewing of gimmick, special effect and depiction allowing the audience to base a reaction on imagination. The one item of scenery, the frame, remains empty and props such as glasses etc and doors into properties are imagined, mimed if you will.
A disturbing scene was very well depicted when Dorian literally has the life blood sucked into him from the picture, the picture being brought to life in the hands of another actor, Robert Osbourne. The pain and facial expressions being very much directed along the lines of Munch’s “The Scream”. Perhaps that artwork really is an “after” representation of Dorian.
A compact collection of cast remain on stage throughout watching the proceedings except for the odd change of character dress, making this very much an intimate setting. Alex Mawers gave a languid supercilious performance as the titled character, well aware of his position and deference due to his beauty and class. Henry Wotton in the hands of Jez Minns more than matched him in confident remarks on quality of life, his monologues on the state of humankind to his pupil/victim Dorian, being sincerely delivered.
Neil Forster evoked sympathy with his portrayal of Basil Hallwood, painter of the original work. The scenes with him, Dorian and Wotton were well paced and emotional.
Pippa Messant Watling brought huge charm to both her roles, her singing voice being perfectly in tune with her character. The scene with her brother played by Robert Osborne was emotionally warm: his “mirror scene”, as indicated already, as picture Dorian was well depicted.
Alan Campbell brought robust confidence to his recurring set of characters, making them entirely believable. Jill Desborough brought empathy to her role as Leaf, equally believable and sympathetic as the put-upon housekeeper. Her reaction to the dead (spoiler-sorry) Dorian was particularly well directed and acted. Completing the cast, Kinga Motyka brought her lovely singing and bright characterisation to the fore, the duet with Pippa being particularly memorable.
The production team, of whom there are many, should be congratulated on following the Director’s vision. Use of lighting, sound costume in perfect keeping and it is clear this is a collaborative effort.
As an homage to the original work, I agree with the Director Note that this production is not about the horror. This adaption almost sees that as a by-product.
Indeed, the characters around Dorian here do not age or change costume as time passes making the speech to Jim Vane about 18 years having passed a surprise, perhaps one step too far for this reviewer. Total reliance on the audience to populate the stage with their own visualisations, almost akin to a silent disco where each person just reacts to what they hear, or in this case don’t see, is an interesting journey and prompted much discussion in the leaving audience. A thought-provoking evening.

- David A Putley

In Common

11 March 2023

Going the Maskers Studio Theatre is always such a joy and living in Shirley, I’m very lucky to have this on my doorstep.
From the moment you walk in you are met with a lovely warm welcome. The bar is incredibly reasonable, so it seems only two right to have a drink. After all, you’re supporting the theatre.
As we make our way to the now allocated seats, we are left wondering how such a small theatre is going to take on such an enormous story. The picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde did not disappoint. The story of a young man who sold his soul for eternal youth. With such simple staging- a black curtain, some clever lighting and a few chairs, they brought each and every scene to life. A plain frame represented the painting and left you to imagining what it might hold.
Dorian Gray, played by Alex Mawers, makes an impressive first performance at the Theatre and must find it a odd change from his day job working in the NHS.
The director Paul Green did an amazing job of telling the story so concisely, focusing on the intertwining relationships between the characters Dorian Gray, Lord Henry Wotton and the painter Basil Hallwood. With so many themes – of the ownership of art, love, friendship, the pursuit of pleasure and so many classic lines. It was a pleasure to see them delivered in context:
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”
One of the things I liked was the real feeling of accessibility – no long scenes or overly complicated language, as you might expect from a classic. The director really adapted this well, keeping the essence of the story, the language and the characters, but in a very presentable way.
All of the cast performed to a very high standard, staying on stage for much of the production which must have been difficult and adapting to play different roles. They moved around the stage adding drama and anticipation to the story.
With tickets at such a reasonable price, it really is worth trying to see their next production. Whatever they have on, I always go as its such a great value night out and I’ve never been disappointed yet.
Well done to the volunteers, the supporters and all the cast and crew that make it possible. A real gem in the heart of Shirley.

- Charlotte Ndupuechi

Eternal Youth at a cost!

In Victorian high society, Dorian Gray is beautiful, wealthy and adored. He agrees to pose for a portrait by Basil Hallward, who has become obsessed with him, and comes under the bad influence of Basil’s friend, Henry Wotton. The final portrait is a masterpiece and, struck by his own appearance, Dorian pledges his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

It works for many years....
...until he looks at the painting.

Dorian is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret, while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society.
With no apparent consequences to his actions... far will he travel down the road to hell?

This contemporary adaptation concentrates on the Gothic themes, and uses physical techniques to create a dark backdrop to what is now regarded as a Literary Classic, this story will provoke thought, challenge and shock.

His portrait absorbed his sins, but at what price?

Director & Cast

The Director of this production is Paul Green
Paul has been acting and directing in Southampton and the surrounding area for over 50 years. He was the Artistic Director of The Talking Heads Theatre Pub in Portswood during the 90s. Since then, Paul has worked with many companies and has directed at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall - a well-received production of The 39 Steps. He joined Maskers in 2013 and has acted in and directed several shows. Last year Paul was very busy directing: Ugly Lies the Bone in the Maskers Studio, Lilies on the Land outdoors at Furzey Gardens, and Rules for Living at The Plaza Theatre in Romsey. His next production will be outdoors at Furzey again, a comedy by Amanda Whittington, Ladies' Day.

Dorian Gray is played by Alex Mawers
Alex is a new member of Maskers and this will be his first show with the group. His only previous experience on stage (excluding Drama classes at school) was in 2019 as Anthony Marston in Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Alex works in a role in finance for the NHS, which he initially joined in 2012 on the apprenticeship program. Outside of work Alex enjoys keeping fit and playing sports, and spending time with friends and family.

Henry Wotton is played by Jez Minns
Jez has been working in the theatre as an amateur, and sometimes professional, actor for the last 35 years and he has been with the Maskers for 25 of them. Most recently he played Tiny Tim in last year’s Xmas show Christmas with the Cratchits. Other recent appearances for the Maskers include Borachio the drunkard in Much Ado About Nothing in the open air and, before Covid, the bullyboy Innkeeper in The Flint Street Nativity in the Maskers Studio. When he is not doing theatre, Jez enjoys painting and sketching and writing poetry.

Basil Hallward is played by Neil Forster
This is Neil's second show with Maskers, after playing Stan in Four Weddings and an Elvis last year. This production couldn't be more different but, as they say, variety is the spice of life! A native Geordie(ish), Neil grew up in South Shields and studied at York University, where he appeared in various shows including Cider with Rosie, Arcadia and Journey’s End. He moved to London after university, where he performed in many other productions including A Clockwork Orange, Oh, What a Lovely War! and Hand to God.

Jim Vane is played by Robert Osborne
Robert has been with Maskers since 2011 and has turned his hand to pretty much every area from acting to stage managing to directing. Currently in his fourth year as the company’s Productions Director, he has faced the tricky task of rebuilding the programme of plays after the pandemic. Last seen as the smiling Marvin Marvel in Four Weddings and an Elvis, Robert now portrays the gruff sailor, Jim Vane. With a degree in English Literature, he is pleased to get the chance to be part of this reworking of Wilde’s only novel.

Alan Campbell / Chorus is played by Duncan Randall
Duncan has enjoyed community theatre for more than a decade in various places. He started as a character actor at primary school. On moving to the south coast, he joined Titchfield Festival Theatre (TFT). His creations for TFT include, Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Enobarbus (Anthony and Cleopatra), Goldberg (The Birthday Party) and the Landlord in Jim Cartwright’s Two. Duncan joined the Maskers last year for The Three Musketeers playing Athos, an outrageous King Louis and a Boris-like Buckingham. Duncan has enjoyed the ensemble and physical acting rehearsals with all its weird creative moments.

Sybil Vane / Chorus is played by Philippa Messent Watling
This is Pippa's first production with Maskers and she's very excited to make her debut with the company. Her previous theatre experience includes participating in Addington Theatre Group's 2015 production of Jack the Ripper and being cast as Barbara in their 2017 production of Billy - with both having been musicals, she hopes to be able to live up to the vocal (and dramatic!) expectations of this role. Outside the theatre, she enjoys fibre crafting, digital art and running.

Leaf / Chorus is played by Jill Desborough
Jill joined Maskers in 2014 and has been involved with many shows in a variety of roles, both on and off stage. Recent acting highlights have included: Mistress Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Liz, a cleaner in an art gallery in Sharks in the Custard, a member of the Watch in our open-air production of Much Ado About Nothing and, most recently, the Ghost of Christmas Present in Christmas with the Cratchits. She is excited to be working on this production of The Picture of Dorian Gray, her first time being directed by Paul.

Mad Cat / Chorus is played by Kinga Motyka
Kinga, originally from Poland, started performing in a theatre at age 6 in her first show, Cinderella. Kinga studied Musical Theatre at the University of Winchester and Acting at the University of Shenandoah in Virginia, USA. Kinga has performed in many productions, but this is her first show with The Maskers. Apart from theatre, Kinga loves singing and travelling.

Creative Team

Production Manager
Kathryn Salmon
Stage Manager
Donald Coe & Kathryn Salmon
Set Design
Paul Green
Set Construction
Brian Stansbridge, Donald Coe, Maria McKay & Clive Weeks
Lighting Design
Clive Weeks
Lighting Assistant
Maria McKay
Sound Design
Chris Moses
Lighting & Sound Operators
Maria McKay & Simon White
Wardrobe & Costumes
Lou Lozano De La Mota
Wardrobe Consultant
Sheana Carrington
Make Up
Lou Lozano De La Mota
Rehearsal Prompt
Philip de Grouchy &

Ticket Information

Tickets £13

No concessions

Customers are requested to arrive promptly as late comers can not be admitted

Please do not come to the Theatre if you feel unwell, have a temperature, have a continuous or intrusive cough, or have temporarily lost your sences of taste and smell.

On arrival at the Masker’s Studio

  • Please give your name (or the name the tickets were booked under) to our Box Office receptionist, and they will confirm your booking.
  • If you have pre-ordered a programme you will be given it on arrival. Programmes will also be available for £1 from a FOH member.
  • For the safety of all our audience members and staff are still operating some Covid risk reduction actions.  Please use the hand sanitising stations on arrival.  We will also be increasing the fresh air circulating throughout the venue.
  • Wearing of face coverings is optional.
  • Our bar will be open for purchases of hot drinks and alcoholic beverages.  We would encourage you to pre-order you interval drinks, to assist our bar staff and reduce crowding at the bar.
  • We are now able to take, and prefer, card payments but can also take cash.

During your visit

  • We ask you to keep movement around the theatre to a minimum.
  • Toilets are open for use. Please wash your hands before and after using the toilet facilities.
  • Hand sanitiser will be available for your use at various points around the theatre building.
  • We have installed an extra extractor fan to vent studio air to the outside pulling fresh air in from the other side of the building.
  • Where possible windows will also remain open.  This may make the venue cooler than you are used to, so please be prepared.
  • Enhanced cleaning will take place throughout the venue before, and after the performance.
  • The taking of photographs or videos whilst the show is on is not permitted.

Exiting the building/event at the end of the performance

  • When leaving, please do not crowd the stairwell and allow everyone to leave easily and quickly.
  • Please take any rubbish with you or leave it in the bins provided.

What if I have specific access needs?

  • The stair chair lift is available and our FOH staff will assist you should you need to use it.
  • Any other requirements may be discussed with our Box Office manager in advance of your arrival.

Book with Confidence, Exchange with Ease – COVID-19

Anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or required to self-isolate, must not attend the theatre and their ticket in your booking will be exchanged or a gift voucher issued up to 24 hours prior to the performance. Tickets cannot be refunded after a performance has passed.

If the show is cancelled, will I get a full refund?

  • If we are required by any COVID-19 government guidance or restrictions to cancel a performance, tickets may be exchanged or refunded.

Poster, Flyer & Programme

For the Maskers

Technical Manager:- Jamie McCarthy;   Lighting Consultant:- Clive Weeks;   Sound Consultant:- Jamie McCarthy;   Marketing Team:- Angela Stansbridge, Clive Weeks, Robert Osborne, Meri Mackney, Paul Baker;   Front of House & Box Office Manager:- Chris Baker;   Photographer:- Clive Weeks;   Bar Manager:- Meri Mackney
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Shirley's own LOCAL theatre!

Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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