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Dreamland review at Zoo Southside, Edinburgh – ‘slick, stylish but clunky banking thriller’

Scene from Dreamland at Zoo Southside, Edinburgh
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Here’s a young company taking on a big subject. Dreamland is the debut show of Hyperdrive Theatre, an outfit formed from East 15 students earlier this year. It’s a slick and stylish finance thriller by Ella Donaldson, set during the 2008 crash.

The narrative focuses on Johnny, a 25-year-old stock broker, who’s determined to make a lot of money by any means necessary. He steals an idea from a colleague (something about buying shitty “CDOs” – collateralised debt obligations – cheap, repackaging them, and selling them on), then proceeds to snort and sex his way into an unassailable position of power.

There’s a lack of shape and focus to Donaldson’s play – is she taking on banking’s cut-throat culture, toxic masculinity, corporate capitalism, or all three? – but it’s compelling nonetheless, capturing a heady, Aaron Sorkin-ish hedonism, and generally managing to steer clear of melodrama.

There are a few iffy performances and some awkward tonal mis-steps. But Sam Edmunds’ production, on a bare white stage populated with just a desk and a swivel chair, shifts gears swiftly, and incorporates some pulsating movement sequences set on the company’s trading floor.

Hyperdrive is hampered here by the facilities, but it has definitely got something – something it could build on with more support.

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Slick and stylish but structurally clunky finance thriller from a new young company