REVIEW: A Critical Dialogue on Somnia

Reviewed by Patrick McGreevy

Disclaimer: I feel as though this piece is one that needs and deserves an honest, critical dialogue from a number of different sources. I want to make clear that I am writing this piece as a critical deconstruction of a work-in-development piece and not as a completed theatrical product. The performances of the actors was of a high quality, and is further discussed in other reviews.

Somnia is a glance deep into the world of bullying, exposing the victims, the participants and the people who are “supposed to help.” The audience is confronted by the honest, emotional and cathartic stories told by the actors, and are mobilised to see through the eyes of the victim.

With a running time of only half an hour, Somnia is a work-in-development which seems to be targeted towards a school age audience. The piece, whilst having some moments of harsh language is the sort of work that would work perfectly as a touring piece going to schools and not just preaching the default anti-bullying slogans, but rather tugging at the heartstrings of all involved in the process of bullying. The piece however, has a long way to go before being able to achieve this.

The comedy in the piece was well utilised, however needs to be sharper and more frequent if the work is to engage school age audiences. This is not to say that some of the physical comedy portrayed didn’t work, however I did want to see much more of it. I know that there is a very thin line between being funny and going to far in an exploration such as bullying, but this is a thing that needs to be further experimented with to see what works.

There are a number of moments which were inspired by personal stories, which worked, but they need to extend further. The piece needs to show at least some form of resolution, whatever the resolution may be. I’m not sure that there is a simple answer to the conflicts portrayed throughout the piece, but the themes of self-confidence, self-acceptance and whatever else needs to be explored. After tearing apart the idea of ‘speaking to someone about it’ is torn apart in the first scene, there needs to be alternatives proposed. This will be able to fit well into the piece, as the post-modern stylistic choices give a great amount of potential for expansion and depth to the piece.

There is a lot more development that needs to be undertaken for Somnia to be a successful piece of student theatre, however this is their first step. Incorporating private showings, dramaturgical consultation and more theatrical experimentation is crucial to the further development of the piece.

Come see Somnia, and talk with the creative team. The two actors and stage manager are very approachable after the show and are very open to critical discussion about their piece. Anywhere Theatre Festival needs more creative, constructive and critical dialogue, and this is the perfect show to start a number of discussions about the emerging arts, bullying and further development of the piece.

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