Writers: Project X
Director: Lee Hart
Reviewer: Helen Tope
Every so often a production comes along that reminds us of the transformative power of theatre. While the draw of celebrity continues to dominate mainstream theatre, Project X is ensuring that creativity continues to thrive, benefitting both local performers and audiences.
Project X is part of Theatre Royal Plymouth’s Our Space project. The project aims to improve the mental health, confidence and wellbeing of adults who have faced challenges such as homelessness, mental health issues or substance misuse.
The company creates plays that articulate their own experiences. In My Dreams I Dream I’m Dreamingsees three characters – David, Rachel and Robert – explore feelings of disconnection, and how the line between dreaming and reality can sometimes become blurred. In My Dreams… chooses to investigate this in a series of vignettes – short scenes that may seem disparate, but they carry a unifying theme. What is real? What is a dream? In this play, it becomes increasingly hard to tell.
Robert moves from comedy to pathos, returning to memories of war, torture and loss. Rachel’s 9-to-5 world is given an added spice, with dreams of office romance and revenge against a too-friendly boss. David, in some of the play’s most poignant scenes, is living in a care home. As he dreams, he finds his mother and his wife, entering an alternative reality where he is surrounded by love. The dreams hover between darkness and light: nightmare, paranoiac descent, surrealist fantasy – it’s all here and given equal billing.
The cast performs with passion – something that comes quite naturally when you’re telling your own story. They take ownership of the narrative, making it bold, laugh-out-loud funny but, above all else, honest.
It seems unfair to single out any one performer, but Ferri Feredouni (playing David) not only plays his role with attention to detail, he moved swiftly from comedy to heartbreak in the blink of an eye. He gives a performance of depth and sophistication, and it is difficult to keep your eyes off him.
What makes this experience unique is the undercurrent informing every scene, every line of dialogue. The laughter, the paranoia, the trauma – nothing feels forced because it comes from somewhere real. It gives the play an authenticity that makes what’s happening onstage downright compelling.
In My Dreams… may have started life as a meditation on the nature of dreams, but the way in which it depicts ideas and develops them – with glorious wit and originality – makes a genuine case for diversity within theatre. The need to articulate experiences that fall outside the cultural norm is brilliantly illustrated here. It is astonishing to think that these voices might be lost, if it were not for projects like Our Space.
In My Dreams… is brave, irreverent and a lot of fun. It works hard to keep your attention – and what’s more – it deserves it too.
Runs until 23 July 2016 | Image: Theatre Royal Plymouth