I had to smile at the ear defenders supplied by the theatre for The Dip, presumably the result of a risk assessment. The only other time I consciously recall being given a free pair was at a student performance of the rock musical Tommy, performed at the Royal Academy of Music, not long after I had seen Bon Jovi at The O2 Arena. I am reluctant to be so unkind as to deem the earplugs ‘health and safety gone mad’ on this occasion, but I didn’t see anyone in the audience put them in at any point (and I had a back-row vantage point).
No programmes or cast lists were available at the performance I attended, perhaps all part of the anarchic nature of proceedings in which central character Al appears to have a Very Big and Very Long Hallucination. The show, for the most part, seeks to dramatize Al’s episode, sandwiched by a touching (in more ways than one) expression of love with Nic. Both seem to have an unhealthy obsession with baba ghanoush, a term I hadn’t come across before – for anyone who happens to be interested, it has its own Wikipedia page. Or rather they have an unhealthy obsession of saying ‘baba ghanoush’ and trying to crowbar the phrase into everything they are discussing.
I can see why a show of this nature, quirky as it is, did relatively well at the Edinburgh Fringe, the performing arts festival where it can pay to be as zany as possible (and then some) to stand out from the crowd. As a standalone show in the Isle of Dogs, without being surrounded by the sheer scale of artistic expression of the Fringe, it still wins over the audience, though it took a little longer than it would have done in its previous late-night slot.
The narrative, if one is able to make sense of it, is performed briskly, with the performance space occasionally extending out into the centre aisle. This hour of organised chaos doesn’t exactly involve zero audience participation, but please be rest assured that nobody in the audience finds themselves on stage, willingly or otherwise. The live music, with a drummer and up to three guitars, was a welcome change from the usual recorded music that accompanies scene changes.
I could spend considerable time and effort picking holes in the coherency of events. That would be missing the point, and in any case, there is much to be enjoyed in the absurdity of what goes on. As ever with live theatre, things went wrong (or at least appeared to go wrong), so full credit to the cast who carried on regardless. What appears to be going on, without giving too much away, is that Al is having a kind of Nightmare of Nightmares, with his sexual orientation called into question at (almost) every turn.
Not everything was laugh-out-loud funny – a scene with some sort of colossal halibut seemed to highlight the continuing prevalence of homophobia in modern society. But there were moments when I hadn’t a clue what was going on. Overall, though, this is an intense and energetic production with healthy doses of physical theatre.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Meet Al. He means well, eats his greens and sometimes smokes them too. As he struggles to express his feelings for his mate Nic, the drugs take hold.
With clowning, confetti cannons, harpoon Nerf guns, a 6ft tyrannical police fish and the Baba Ganoush Gestapo spitting out psychedelic rock, adrenaline and funk, THE DIP is the best bad trip of a lifetime.
After a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018, the melting pot of madness that is Milk and Blood bring their critically acclaimed debut show to London. Brand-new direction from Sam Edmunds, new cast members including THE DIP’s writer Eifion Ap Cadno and some old favourites promise to make this a night to remember… one way or another.
A psychedelic gig-comedy that playfully explores what it means to question our sexuality.
It’s time to get proper baba ganoushed.
THE DIP contains explicit language, scenes of a sexual nature, adult themes and nudity.
29 January – 2 February
Recommended Age 16+
Running Time: 70 minutes
269 Westferry Road, London, E14 3RS