It is rare to see a well executed classic text in Anywhere Theatre Festival, however Able Productions' take on August Strindberg's expressionist masterpiece A Dream Play makes a solid argument to being the one of few that achieves in a festival much more supportive of more contemporary works.
The goddess Agnes, who is sent down to the earth in the form of a beautiful woman. A Dream Play exhibits Agnes' interactions with the mortals she encounters. From the lawyers, the doctors, the priests, the whores, each characters experience shape Agnes' personality, developing from a child-like demeanour at the beginning of the show to a more troubled being, shaped by the sex, drugs and death that she encounters.
I admired the choices made by the creative team. Everything was done with intent and was very deliberate. A Dream Play's visual concept excited me, a set comprised of only a bed, some sheets and discarded costumes from previous scenes and lighting provided by flash lights handed to the audience. While these ideas are enticing on face value, the execution of these design aspects was a little underwhelming.
One of my favourite elements of the show was the eccentric use of character. The supporting actors played a variety of characters and, while portraying different characters, kept certain characteristics consistent, regardless of what character they were playing. For example, two performers played the text as a comedy, where others played it as a tragedy or purely absurd. I'm not too literate with expressionism and surrealism, however the idea of showing an actor's personality and/or philosophies on stage is immensely engaging to me.
I was able to appreciate the work for what it was, however A Dream Play was not for me. It was clear that the piece fills a certain niche in the festival, however I wasn't able to get into the show. A Dream Play makes bold, exciting theatrical choices, and if you're a fan of classic text, surrealism or expressionism, this show is for you.
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