There is something about daydreaming that I really like, I think the fact that it just happens unconsciously, and you are propelled into this existence where anything is possible. I reckon that’s a really cool concept. When I was younger I read this poem by Samuel Coleridge called This Lime-tree Bower my Prison and it really resonated with me in a positive manner. Inversely to that I really dislike the genre of music that is Screamo, I find it jarring and over-bearing, now if I was to describe to you what today’s experience of Anywhere Festivals A Dream Play was like, I would say it’s a strange combination of the two. Before you pass judgement on my bizarre analogy let me explain myself, there was something beautifully chaotic about the adaptation I witnessed today at the Boundary St Markets Warehouse.
Although not its originally scheduled setting, the dilapidated/half constructed 2nd Floor of the Warehouse seemed a very appropriate place to stage this sombre investigation into human suffering. I thought the simplistic set was quite clever in its way it employed a set of sheets, some fairy lights and a queen bed to represent the many locations of the play. Some interesting choices were made with the scene changes, that at moments were very effective yet other times seemed to affect the flow of the play. There were some very impressive displays of acting throughout, the actors that I felt excelled in-particular were: Jack O’Brien (as the Lawyer), Willem Whitfield (as the Poet) and Chris Richards (as the Bill Poster). With the rest of the cast delivering a solid performance, although it felt like some were more committed and focused then others.
The main issue I had with this adaptation was that it lacked clarity, without a prior knowledge to the play I struggled to comprehend the multitudes of characters, and the complex plot. Important moments were lost by actors who delivered their lines at such a rate that it was impossible to decipher the content. As a fellow audience member said to me “Anyone can shout to get their point across, but it’s the quieter moments that are the most emotional” which in my opinion was spot on, because it was the actors who weren’t over-emoting that had the most effect on me. In some instances it felt like the performers were in a rush to finish their speeches and this feeling of just “reciting the lines” disengaged me from the story. This was the longest play I’ve seen at the Festival (being just under 2 hours) so it is understandable how time pressures could affect the cast.
This adaptation had many grand ideas, I feel that the execution of it let it down. The idea of the flash lights for the audience members was very effective, it added tension and allowed for greater audience participation. The soundtrack was well suited and almost too effective in creating the mood, as there were some brilliant moments of comedy that would have been more successful if the tone hadn’t of been so bleak. All in all I liked this adaptation, it was different and strange and not what I’m used to. I respect the risks the creatives took and although they didn’t always pay off it was still a very entertaining 2 hours. So if you are a fan of Romantic poetry, or hard-core music then this is for you, if you are a human being who has suffered then this is for you, if you want to see “seven local actors come together to re-imagine the 1902 surrealist work by troubled genius August Strindberg” then this is definitely for you.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 17th.