This is easily the most unusual thing I have ever seen at the Fringe. The show describes itself as having adult themes and gives the regulation warnings for those easily offended or lacking a sturdy sense of humour, but none of that quite prepared me for the sheer charming oddness of what Dream or Not had to offer.
The show is performed by Visual Virus, a deaf theatre company performing solely in British Sign Language, and the play is comprised of three twenty-minute short stories about sex. You may, quite understandably, be wondering how someone who doesn’t sign could give a full review of the show; to put it discreetly, the narrative was pretty easy to follow. To put it less discreetly, it was one wonderfully crude hour of theatre that had a lot of fun with its central premise and made fantastic use of its talented performers.
One scene featured a woman trying to choose between two potential suitors in a bar as each plays out in a dream sequence the sexual act that could follow. Which is a roundabout way of saying that two guys perform hilariously filthy mime for about twenty minutes. And that was probably the tamest of the three scenes. Dream or Not does a remarkable thing: it’s frank and forthright about the intricacies and power structures of male and female sexuality without making a whole song and dance about how daring and edgy it’s being. There’s a very healthy dose of humour to proceedings that a less confident production might not have achieved.
The show is intended for both hearing and non-hearing audiences, and it was a real pleasure to see theatre performed in this language, which can function almost as a different artistic medium. If you haven’t seen deaf theatre before, Dream or Not is an experience you won’t forget in a hurry.