“The here and the now is wow!” we’re
told at the start of
Aimed at older primary school children, Broken Dreams is an energetic show full of chat, engaging audience participation, and some genuine moments of spectacle.
Things start oddly enough, though, with some form-filling and a not-always-clearly-sign-posted system by which audience members are encouraged to record their unfulfilled wishes onto a silicon chip attached to a small plastic duck, which is then swooshed along a long perspex tube of water into the performance space, which is focused on a decrepit Bedford van surrounded by mountains of cardboard boxes. The ducks continue to swim round the van in a metal conduit, the ornate means by which three audience members are subsequently selected – seemingly at random – to have their dreams come (sort of) true courtesy of the show’s six performers.
Initially, this is very much done for laughs; on the day of the review, a young girl’s transformation for the day into “Beyonce, formerly known as Jessica”, is ably achieved through low-rent puppetry and a video camera. A boy’s desire to fly, meantime, becomes a slightly more serious point of contention between the romantics who dream it possible (and attempt to work out the mathematics to prove it) and the realist who believes she has a firmer understanding of the laws of aerodynamics and the difference between flying and falling.
Given that the multiple-choice questions of the forms are fairly specific, it is clearly not too difficult for the cast to ensure that the final dream under consideration is about a young audience member’s first romantic kiss, the re-enactment of which brings to the fore the supposed underlying tension between the two main cast members: sole female performer Anna – nicknamed “the Mistake” by her mother, and forever missing her absentee father, whom she was told was a lost astronaut – and the childhood friend Hermé who has long adored her.
Aimed at older primary school children, Broken Dreams is an energetic show full of chat, engaging audience participation, and some genuine moments of spectacle. However, what arguably makes the show more memorable is its bitter-sweet exploration of how we can’t always get what we want; that the glorious “anything’s possible” potential of childhood sooner or later runs into the growing realisation of the restraints and heartbreaks of approaching adulthood – and how we must necessarily find what happiness we can in whatever life brings our way. As a result, Broken Dreams is a far more mature and targeted theatrical work than the plastic ducks might initially suggest. Which, presumably, is the point.