‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ review – Sarah Snook does the impossible onstage

Read our five-star review of Sarah Snook in The Picture of Dorian Gray, now in performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket through 11 May.

Suzy Evans
Suzy Evans

Seeing Sarah Snook in the West End alone is one of the biggest theatrical events of the year. Seeing 26 Sarah Snooks onstage is something entirely unimaginable. That is until you see The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This form-bending, innovative feat of a production and performance will have your jaw on the floor.

The Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning Succession star makes her West End return in director/adaptor Kip Williams’s take on the Oscar Wilde classic about a young man who pursues youth and beauty at any cost. The production premiered in 2023 at the Sydney Theatre Company, where Williams is the artistic director, and Snook takes on the role (or rather, roles) for the first time here.

At times, it’s impossible to tell if what you’re watching on the screens is happening live and which is pre-recorded. Now, this is not to discount anything that the team has put together here, but it’s because there are sometimes three or more Sarah Snooks interacting with each other on the screen. Will the real Sarah Snook please stand up?

But she’s too busy. Between countless wig and costume changes, Snook never leaves the stage and the cameras never leave her face for the entire two-hour runtime. (I’m not sure I even saw her take a sip of water.) The physical stamina alone is impressive and staggering, notwithstanding the precision camera-work, theatricality, and oh 26 different parts to play. Snook is an absolute marvel. Is there anything she can’t do?

Many film actors can get a bad rap for their film skills not translating onstage, but Snook can somehow create an intimate moment onscreen while still playing to an entire West End theatre. She even films herself in parts while keeping the audience in the palm of her hand, both live and onscreen.

While the show is billed as a one-woman play, fourteen camera operators and stagehands flank Snook at curtain call. These videography wizards weave in and out of each scene and even sometimes act as scene partners – whether it’s a quick kickline or a little affirmation after a wig change. As they say, it takes a village and there’s an impressive village supporting Snook in order to achieve this seamless technological feat.

At its core, Wilde’s story is about the perils and downfall of youth, and Williams’s adaptation juxtaposes societal propriety and TikTok obsession by crafting an inventive take on the period drama. We are viewing everything through a lens – even Snook – and it's through that lens that we determine value. But what kinds of concocted facades and pretences is everyone trying to manage and at what expense? Everything is an illusion, except for Snook who is giving one of the bravest and most unabashed performances I’ve ever seen onstage.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 11 May.

Photo credit: Sarah Snook in The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Photo by Marc Brenner)

Originally published on

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock exclusive London theatre updates!

Special offers, reviews and release dates for the best shows in town.

You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy