BAZ Productions have reinvented August Strindberg’s ‘The Dream Play’ at the Vaults. Taking the audience in through the back and around the space, they have created different dream-like scenes to varying effect.
Based on the story of the daughter of a god who descends to earth to witness the plight of humankind, we are first confronted with her as she appears from within the waiting audience, speaking an unintelligible language. We are led through various scenarios involving firstly a woman locked in bathroom calling for her mother, then a strange dinner scene that evolves into a wedding proposal between two couples, followed by the breakdown of the marriages. These were followed by a school scene with teachers who humiliated us, the pupils, and this led to a finale in which life and death were questioned.
Moments of this production flashed with brilliance and real feeling but often it seemed to focus too narrowly on a certain kind of human pain rather than the broader spectrum of human suffering. Too often we felt disconnected from the formless scenes which unfolded before us. The final scene became a simplistic discussion of life and death with references to Jesus, Buddha and resurrection. It was completely without poetic insight or gravitas.
Real moments of humour came out of the scene involving the couple whose marriage has broken down, which although formulaic, was engaging. However when a chained man (as in ball and chain) in his undies suddenly and unaccountably breaks into the scene there was a real moment of hilarity. The school scene was the first time we truly felt like we were in a dream, but sadly this experience did not recur.
Laura Moody was a constant shining light in this production. The alternative cellist and vocalist, brought her ethereal sounds to the whole piece, adding significantly to the mood of the piece. She has a phenomenal vocal range that goes well beyond conventional sounds. It is a shame the rest of the piece did not match up to her performance. This piece needed more attention in its development. Flashes of brilliance and hilarity were encumbered by a lack of direction and purpose.
Highlight of the piece – the lights snapping out in the school room and what followed – truly dreamlike.