Rose’s earliest memory is a ruined birthday party at the age of eighteen. The rest of her past is a blur to her: snatches of information, electric dreams. She meets Sebastian, a Chilean migrant and opponent of the Pinochet regime, on a bridge. Together, they try and piece together Rose’s past while Sebastian tries to forget his.
This is Naomi Klein at her most accessible
Based on Naomi Klein’s imposing yet influential Shock Doctrine, Dumbshow create a perfectly enjoyable mystery that also attempts to address the failings of global neoliberal capitalism, local council cuts and CIA-sanctioned torture. To their credit, the cast of four give it a good go although, given the size of the intellectual leaps required here, it’s no surprise that they often resort to slightly awkward exposition to tell the story.
The premise is that Rose has been ‘shocked’ into forgetting her past, in the same way that societies can be shocked into accepting political and economic ideologies at odds with the people’s interest. Not the easiest of tales to tell, yet Michael Bryher’s direction is quick enough to keep us engaged throughout. The political heart of the show grows gradually and, come final scene, we have been won over by Klein’s thinking, albeit in a simplified form.
Pia de Keyser is wonderful as Rose: brittle yet resolutely determined to discover the secret of her previous life. Other performances don’t quite match this, although there are lovely moments to be had here: Jack Cole’s Sebastian is endearingly compassionate and Rollo Clarke underscores with sparse but perfect piano.
Electric Dreams tries to do an awful lot in its sixty minutes. For the most part it succeeds – even if it has to resort to a clunky-feeling library-based framing device to do so. This is Naomi Klein at her most accessible but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the drama is compelling throughout. Its message and scope are admirable although for the most part, it’s nowhere near electric enough.