I suppose there are dreams that are difficult to draw anything practical from – the Old Testament story about Joseph allegedly having divine inspiration to ‘interpret’ dreams being a case in point, and this is something explored with varying degrees of success in dreamplay, one of those deliberately all-in-lower-case, one-word show titles. Some parts of the show are very abstract indeed, and allow for any number of meanings or explanations, depending on one’s frame of reference. For instance, a woman frantically dancing (Michelle Luther) could be seen in at least three different ways. In no particular order: firstly, as someone giving an interpretive dance to the cello playing of Laura Moody; secondly, as some sort of variation on the story of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Red Shoes, where constant dancing is happening as a punishment for vanity, such that even when the dancer wants to stop she cannot; and thirdly, as a metaphor for the dance of life, where there are miscellaneous frustrating obstacles to be overcome.
Characters are given names, but these are not listed in the programme, and although my recollection is quite sound in this regard on this occasion, I shall keep faith with the production and not divulge them. Anyway, elsewhere, the narrative is, to be blunt, not a dream at all, but a young couple, played by Jade Ogugua and Jack Wilkinson, having the sort of bickering conversation stressed out working parents tend to have. I therefore found myself lurching from not being able to understand what various grunts and screams were supposed to be indicative of (Hell, perhaps?) to watching a soap opera on stage, and back again.
Even taking into consideration the promenade nature of this production, the sightlines were too often frankly terrible. I ran out of energy twisting around to wherever the action was happening, and I am quite sure I would have ended up with a sore neck by the end of the show if I had attempted to look directly at each performer whenever they spoke. It’s wonderful that this production makes full use of the available space in the venue, and of course by its nature, promenade performances are going to involve some movement on the part of the audience, but the near constant ping-ponging very quickly outlasted its welcome.
The same goes for all that screeching and screaming, which I eventually found boring in its over-repetitiveness. I’d have thought a very popular chart music singer or group was about to take to the stage and perform a gig if I hadn’t known any better. At one point all of them are bouncing around making a lot of discordant noise (Colin Hurley completing the quintet of performers), and I found too much of this play bizarre and impenetrable. One character is another character’s girlfriend one moment, and the same character’s daughter the next. A sudden discussion between various characters about the afterlife was too meandering and unfocused.
I would have liked to have some food for thought to have gone away with. As it is, I suspect this production will be better enjoyed by people whose imaginations are substantially wilder than my own. Still, it’s a hard-working cast, who project well, interact well and act well. But, aside from not wanting to give away too much in a review, if someone were to ask me what the show was about, I couldn’t possibly give an adequate reply.
Review by Chris Omaweng
A response to Strindberg, script by Sarah Bedi and the company.
A mysterious woman arrives on Earth, intent on uncovering the truth about human suffering. Her dream-like quest leads her through shifting landscapes and into contact with a host of disturbing characters as she searches for the ever elusive Door, behind which she is certain the answer lies … Can she discover the unconscious truth and return home?
BAZ brings its unique brand of magic to the Southbank, inviting you to an exploration of our dreams, desires and anxieties in a re-imagining of Strindberg’s epic play in the tunnels underneath Waterloo Station.
10th September – 1st October 2016
Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm
Saturday Matinees 3pm
General Admission: £15.00
Prices exclude Booking Fee
Suitable for Ages 14+
Running time 90 minutes. Please note this performance does not include an interval