dreamplay – The Vaults, London

Writer and Director:Sarah Bedi
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree

Dreamplay is presented by BAZ Productions, a company known for its re-working of classical texts. Their choice,this time, has been the play of the same name by Strindberg. First performed in 1907, it is considered a turning point, not only in the author’s work but also theatrical history. On-line dictionaries give various definitions of “dramaturg” that include “ham actor” and “stooge” but here it must mean simply “dramatist”.

The Dreamplay of Baz is a 90-minute continuous promenade performance for which the Vaults Theatre in Waterloo is an ideal venue. Not easy to find, a visitor coming for the first time would find a daylight recce helpful. Its labyrinthine interior would be quite scary if it were not for the ushers, who accompany the itinerant audience. The action takes place in a series of unconnected scenes. Unfortunately, although the geography of the building suits the production very well, it was not built with good acoustics in mind. There is not very much dialogue in speech form but what there is, is rather “shouty” and therefore verging on the unintelligible.

The original’s use of dream sequences to tell a tale opens up endless possibilities. Is the audience the dreamers or is it the main character, played here with great energy by Jade Ogugua? The action begins with fractions of plaintive music, played and sung beautifully by Laura Moody. The peace is shattered as the central figure enters a gathering of the other characters, screaming, laughing, weeping and uttering animal noises reminiscent of the first MrsRochester. It is evidently more of a nightmare than a dream.

Next, we are led into the second space, where, in one corner, a “child” in high visibility gear, including a hard hat, is being sick in a lavatory pan. She screams apologies at her mother.

Further into the space, a table is set for breakfast. A man and woman appear. She dances to cello music. Here the ensemble is so perfect that it is impossible to say if the dancer is interpreting the music or the instrumentalist following the movements.

Several more unrelated scenes, varying in degrees of obscurity, continue the dream motif. Unnamed characters are played by Colin Hurley, Michelle Luther and Jack Wilkinson, There is a bedroom, a school room, a man soliloquises to his own reflection. The whole ends badly but, fortunately, it was only a dream.

Runs until 1 October 2016 | Image:Cesare De Giglio

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