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Dreamplay review at the Vaults, London – ‘a provocative dreamscape’

Jade Ogugua and Colin Hurley in Dreamplay at the Vaults, London. Photo: Cesare De Giglio

Examining the cusp of consciousness between sleeping and waking, Baz Productions’ Strindberg adaptation nudges at existential questions. Dreamplay’s sequence of disjointed scenarios is abstruse yet provocatively familiar, at times mischievously amusing, at others deeply discomforting.

Cast members adeptly switch roles between and within scenes as they draw the action through the Vaults’ assorted spaces, from grotty toilet to vaudevillian cabaret to Ikea-furnished bedroom and beyond. No sooner are we lulled into familiarity, than a disconcerting shift reminds us that this is a dream world and a Y-front-clad messenger, played by Colin Hurley, bursts in.

Jade Ogugua’s possessed, dumb savant bookends the show, while Jack Wilkinson morphs between stagehand, whiny hubby and washed-up beach bum beneath a concrete sky. Through her music, cellist-singer Laura Moody exudes levity and menace. One moment her scrapes and tremeloes sadistically manipulate a pouting marionette (Michelle Luther), another she channels Joyce Grenfell as a bossy teacher before leading the cast in a primal waltz.

The dream-spell is occasionally broken when the sizeable audience traipses between locations. And poor sight lines can make it hard to follow the action, which occasionally dwells too long in a particular place. Yet there are moments that tap into our hopes and fears: this show is not afraid to contemplate the human condition, whether in a scene detailing domestic minutiae or one infused with animalistic ritual.

While this liminal world seems ripe for exploration, Dreamplay doesn’t define what questions it is posing or answering – its flashes of brilliance don’t quite add up to full enlightenment.

Verdict
Entertaining and provocative dreamscape that ultimately shies away from the big issues it approaches
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