It’s known to everyone who has ever reviewed a play that you never quite know what to expect when you’re sent to a small theatre outside central London. You get some terrible ones, some brilliant ones, and some that you can barely remember the next week. The Wonderful World of Dissocia thankfully is firmly in the brilliant camp.
We start in a small flat somewhere, where a woman is tuning her guitar too tightly and a string breaks. Our heroine, Miss Lisa Jones, is soon visited by a watch repairman who explains to her that because she was on a flight when the clocks changed, she had lost an hour and this was the reason why her life was in flux. All she had to do was call a number, and she would get to go to Dissocia, where her hour had been traced to, and reclaim her lost hour.
One phone call later and her flat is turned into a lift, and she finds herself in Dissocia, a rather ridiculous place where the security guards are instead insecurity guards, the lost property office has gone missing and the Queen is in hiding from The Black Dog King, who is waging a war against the country. At one point Lisa and a polar bear is singing a song to make her feel better when she’s scared.
Around this point we meet a goat that of course turns out to be a scapegoat and the play takes a very expected turn when the goat ties up Lisa and is about to rape her. He is interrupted by Jane from the Community Crime Initiative, who steps in to take the raping and beating in her place, which happens off stage with horrifying sound effects and screams. This reviewer was very put off when this was played for laughs, and the play continued on its hilarious way, with ridiculous jokes, full frontal nudity, but then the act ended as the Black Dog King turned out to be Lisa’s boyfriend.
You may have heard depression described as a black dog on your shoulder. The second act, which was short, took place entirely in a hospital room, with very little dialogue, as you see Lisa slowly recovering over time from act one, a delusional episode. And then everything makes sense. Everything you’ve seen is extreme, over the top representation of her own life, which leads me to conclude that she was at one point a victim of sexual assault, and this is how her mind dealt with it when she was off her medication. The second act in its entirety is a very accurate representation of what it is like to be depressed and on medication, with extreme fatigue, mixed with some fits of energy and rage, and it was deeply moving.
It is a wonderful thing when a piece of theatre pulls you in so strongly and the audience, who were in stitches in act one, are in stunned silence through act two. The fantastic cast managed to have both excellent comedic timing in one act and sincere, realistic portrayals in the second, a feat in itself. Sherralyn Lee as Lisa is engaging, hilarious and someone afterwards you want to give a big hug.
A brilliant play brilliantly performed, and one that will stay with in my mind for a long time.
Review by Tori Jo Lau
The Questors present The Wonderful World of Dissocia
by Anthony Neilson
Mind-bending and award-winning play
Lisa Jones, a young woman, lapses into a psychotic state in which a Swiss watchmaker tells her she has lost an hour of her life. In order to retrieve it she must visit the world of Dissocia, a fantastical place full of characters who are absurd, comic, intimidating, sexually violent and even cute. Neilson’s imaginative and challenging drama juxtaposes Lisa’s adventures in Dissocia with the treatment she is receiving for her psychiatric illness.
The play won the 2004–05 Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland for Best New Play, and subsequently made its London debut at the Royal Court Theatre in March 2007. In December 2009 The List magazine included the work in its Best of a Decade compilation.
Director – David Emmet
Designer – Philip Lindley
Lighting Designer – Chris Newall
Assistant Lighting Designer – Terry Mummery
Sound Designer & Score – Daniel Beilby
Costume Designer – Jennie Yates
Stage Manager – Cathy Swift
DSM – Sarah Clopet
Lisa Jones -Sherralyn Lee
Victor, Attendant, Ticket, Dr Faraday – Allan Soper
Guard 1, Laughter, Vince – James Farrar
Guard 2, Argument, Nurse 3 – Declan McAndrew
Passenger 4, Oathtaker, Inhibitions, Dr Clark – Sandy Bhardwaj
Passenger 3, Attendant, Goat, Biffer, Nurse 2 – Joe Foster
Passenger 2, Attendant, Britney, Nurse 1 – Madeleine Maxwell-Libby
Passenger 1, Attendant, Jane, Violinist, Dot – Emily Thomas
Polar Bear, Jessica Harding & Eleanor Harding
Sunday 31st May 2015