This is a show that had so much potential in its material and utilised none of it. Most of the piece takes place inside the dreams of an amnesiac. The scenes of stilted dialogue performed very woodenly are broken up by short sections of lovely dance.
There is lots of wandering around the stage pontificating, whilst trying to frame it as a conversation between two people.
Marcus, a researcher, has built a machine that lets you see, or perhaps experience, or perhaps enter other people’s dreams (like Inception). It’s not clear. His colleague, the Professor, will publish Marcus’s work – if he can prove the machine works. The Professor has a Patient, in a coma, who witnessed a murder, so he wants to use Marcus’s machine to find out who committed the murder (to prove it works, and not for any nefarious reasons. Honest). The rest of the play takes place inside the dreams of the Patient, as they try and find his memories. Or perhaps some of it happens in Marcus’s dreams. Or perhaps some of the scenes take place in reality, and some in dreams. It’s difficult to unravel, as there is no indication, either by differentiation of performance style, lighting, sound or anything, to help the audience work out where these scenes are meant to be taking place.
The short dance interludes are the redeeming features of the show, and the sole reason this production scraped a second star. The duo of dancers provided great smooth and energetic performances of the contemporary choreography, working well at both the more aggressive and contemplative pieces.
The story is a mess, with endless plot holes and confusion. Marcus can’t dream, yet we spend many scenes with a female spectre of his who walks around looking sultry and dismissive: scenes which I must assume are not happening in reality or in the Patient’s head. The Patient also has a mystery woman in his dreamscape, who dresses in white and is disappointed when the Patient does vague, bad things. There are some very confused whore/virgin metaphors going on here. For a play that claims to be about searching for the ‘true meaning of perfection in a capitalistic world’, that message just seems to be tacked on the end like a moral in a children’s tale. The script needs a serious edit.
By the end of the show, I still had no idea who a large portion of the cast were meant to be. There is the militaristic guy who beat up the Patient, and the green and black punk lady that was a bit of a stirrer, and of course the mystery women. I’m not sure what these characters are supposed to represent or bring to the story. They just seem to exist to give Marcus and the Patient someone to talk to. There is lots of wandering around the stage pontificating, whilst trying to frame it as a conversation between two people.
The costume design is about the only well done part of the production. Each of the characters had a very distinctive look. The make up on the dancers seems a bit last minute: it would have been nice for it to have some connection to the show. It was clear that the lighting design was trying to be different, but it does result in a lot of poorly lit scenes where the cast were difficult to see. The dances are soundtracked by cinematic music pieces, or electronica-dubstep, that is played almost uncomfortably loudly over the speakers.