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Sylvia’s Quest – The Mill, Dublin

Writer and Director: Alice Coghlan

Reviewer: Alan Foran

[rating:3.5]

Wonderland Theatre’s production, Sylvia’s Quest, takes you outside the theatre, using the Dundrum Shopping Centre, inside and out, as the set for their tale of a Bulgarian woman living in Ireland.

What transpires in this piece of street theatre, is the unfolding of the life and character of Sylvia, told through her own experiences, and the voices of people she encounters, as well as those she has left at home. At times uplifting, at times dark, it is a production that brings you face to face, literally, with a displaced woman, lost in an unfamiliar world that is harsh towards her.

Sylvia, played with charm and feeling by Elitsa Dimova, is the only actress we see, and she engages with the audience extremely well. The dancing sequence is really wonderfully portrayed, as are her facial expressions, which we get to see clearly, being so close. The other actors, played by Damien Devaney and Anne Marie O’Donovan, are voices, to which Dimova conjures up by acting to them.

Before the performance, we are given headsets and receivers, through which the vocal action takes place, in a way removing the real world sounds and bringing us into this new world. Sylvia herself appears through the real crowd of the shopping centre, people going about their every day business; some noticing us and some not, which, in some ways, is really the point of the piece. It feels like theatre, but has that reality of movies, and you can pick your own angle (although you are guided to the best vantage points if necessary). Obviously, a piece like this has no intermission, but being on the move makes one unnecessary. Also, for the outside, umbrellas are provided in the case of rain.

It is an experience that wraps all around you, and for that reason is well worth seeing. In fact, the idea has many possibilities for many tales in many locations. It is experimental, and it is very different. It takes familiar surroundings and changes them in some way, and that is unique as well. It will be interesting to see what this company and writer do next, but one thing is or sure, they are thinking outside the box.

Runs until 20th October

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