Warren-Thomas takes lead in Picture of Dorian Gray

Guy Warren-Thomas. Pic: Comp
Guy Warren-Thomas. Pic: Comp
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MAKING the cut can be a nerve-wracking wait for an actor. At least on tour, you know you will be required on stage at 7.30pm and be done, usually, by the back of ten at the latest.

But filming is different. You spend hours on set, shoot your scenes, wrap, then head home in the hope that, somewhere along the way, the director doesn’t decide to cut your scene or the editor snip your big moment, leaving all your efforts ‘lying on the cutting room floor’.

It’s something Guy Warren-Thomas knows all about. The actor, who tours to Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre in The Picture of Dorian Gray tomorrow, spent a day filming on the new Spooks movie, The Greater Good, which is released in cinemas next week.

“I played a geeky MI6 staffer. That was great day of filming because I’d watched it on TV quite a few times when I was growing up.

“The script reads brilliantly. It was fascinating seeing it going through all the different drafts and then filming with Elliot Levey and Geoffrey Streatfield, both brilliant actors.”

On the set from noon until four and then called again in the evening, Warren-Thomas is resigned to the fact, however, there is always the chance that despite everyone’s hard work, his scene might not make it onto the screen.

“As an actor your job is to turn up, deliver the goods, and fulfil that character as best you can,” he says, matter of factly.

“Then it’s very much left to the editor and director. It is a bit frustrating, but you learn so much in a job like that. It is just wonderful to be involved.”

Warren-Thomas has no such worries about tomorrow’s performance, of course, when he takes on the title role in the European Arts Company’s production of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Adapted by Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland and John O’Connor, the tour marks the 125th anniversary of the publication of the novel on which it is based.

Set in the decadent world of Victorian London, a beautiful, narcissistic young man becomes infatuated by the exquisite portrait that Basil Hallward has painted of him.

He makes a Faustian pact that he will remain forever young while the picture grows old.

Combining drawing-room comedy and Gothic horror, this is a gripping and hugely entertaining play, and one that Warren-Thomas had all but given up on appearing in.

“Weirdly, about a month or two before I got the audition for this, I thought, ‘Well that bird has flown...’ then this came up,” explains the actor.

“It was lovely. A nice surprise especially as I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde - Dorian Gray is such a well known character.

“It’s a fascinating character to play. The journey he goes on, from innocent to this knackered, corrupt man, has always intrigued me.

“Rehearsals really were a journey of discovery throughout. I found much more empathy for him than I thought I would because he is not always that likeable a character.

“However, having had the chance to get inside his head, I realised that, essentially, it’s the story of a supernatural occurrence.

“I don’t know how else anyone can explain away what happens to him, or how they would react in those circumstances.

“And when you look at his life; he grew up with no parents. Both died. His grandfather had his father killed and then his mother died within a year.

“So having grown up under the influence of a grandfather he possibly didn’t even like helped me find his vulnerability... then he falls under the spell of Lord Henry, who takes him down this path, were he does some inexcusable things.”

Avoiding other interpretations of the role was important to Warren-Thomas as he determined to make the part his own.

“I avoided seeing anything that had been done before, although I did have a quick look at Peter Firth in John Osbourne’s 1976 TV play of it,” he admits.

“I also read the novel before we started rehearsals and, of course, we have this new adaptation which helps.

“I suppose what I have tried to do is keep it within the period in which it is set, while trying to make it as fresh and modern as possible.”

Joining Warren-Thomas in the cast are Gwynfor Jones as Lord Henry, Rupert Mason as Basil Hallward and Helen Keeley as Sybil Vane.

They are a great ensemble who work well together, he says, just as well. As a small scale touring company they all have to muck in as they play a different venue each night.

“You really get to know what’s goes into putting on the show,” he laughs, “but it highlights how much of an ensemble this is, we all drive the van, do our own props, and even wash all our own costumes. It’s a very hands on tour.”

Dorian Gray would certainly not have approved.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, tomorrow, 7.30pm, £12, 0131- 665 2240