The Wonderful World Of Dissocia.
2004 EIF Theatre Programme.
Writer and Director - Antony Neilson.
Company - EIF/Drum Theatre Plymouth Production in association with The Tron Theatre
Production Details including cast Here.
Venue Royal Lyceum Theatre.
Address Grindlay St.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
Divided into two acts this play takes us into the technicoloured and exciting
world of Lisa, a woman who is living with a mental challenge - her grip on what
we call the real world has seriously slipped. In the second act we watch her recovery
in a sterile, white hospital room and, after seeing this play, the temptation
to put inverted commas round recovery is hard to resist. The play begins with
Lisa, wearing a turquoise satin dress, tightening her guitar's string until it
snaps, seated in front of the Safety Curtain. A man comes knocking at her door
all the way from Switzerland, he can't repair her watch 'cause she has lost one
of her hours, and she must find it herself.
Stepping into a lift she goes down into Dissocia, where there are Welsh Insecurity
Guards, a female council worker who suffers so others don't, a argumentive Scapegoat,
and an Oath Taker who proccesses with acolytes while ceremonially eating oatcakes.
With a spaceship with flashing lights hanging in the air - the inhabitants are
at war with the Black Dog Scum - and a lost, lost property store, Neilson and
his actors have created a world gloriously recognisable to those of us who've
lived in our own incredible credible minds. Worlds where everything seems to interconnect
but not in "normal" ways, where nothing seems odd and all seems possible.
Christine Entwisle's central performance, and the fine support from the rest of
the cast make what could be a hallucination too far, an entrancing world - half
Monty Python, part a modern Wonderland for Alice/Lisa with its own mad hot dog
party. The lines contain comic puns and connections, and that instinctive, wild
insight manic and dissociative minds can make. It's a pity there is no printed
text, I'm dying to read it and, if I weren't so Festival exhausted, I'd go to
see this play again.
The second half is more demanding on the audience as we slowly see Lisa move from
a heavily drugged state to a final conversation where the simple last lines leave
us moved. The days' and nights' passings are signified by prolonged blackouts,
blackouts that are a few beats too long. It also suggests that the treatment is
pills, isolation and minimal interaction even with the medical staff, whereas
shared rooms and group sessions or attempts to get patients to interact is more
the medical norm, though the conversations with the sister and partner ring so
true. Overall though, it's a liberating look at life lived beyond sanity which
lets us draw our own conclusions in a production which I hope will be seen elsewhere.
The sets by Miriam Buether contrast very effectively. There's the sweeping up
and away from us curved stage of the first part, bathed with high intense colours
by Chahine Yavroyan and the second act set, placed at the front of the stage,
a glassed-in hospital non-colours, so-called calming enviroment. And the mix of
music, sounds and rumbles by Nick Powell also reflects that intenseness of perception
you get in these states. As the only World Premiere theatre piece at the EIF this
is a fine calibre and subtle offering where the writer/director Neilson lets the
audience form its own opinions in a production of visual contrasts and verbal
© Thelma Good 1 September 2004. Published on www.Edinburghguide.com
Run 1 - 4 September 2004.
Writer and Director - Anthony Neilson.
Designer - Miriam Buether.
Lighting Designer - Chahine Yavroyan.
Music/Sound Designer - Nick Powell.
Assistant Director - Pamela Carter.
James Cunningham, Christine Entwisle, Alan Francis, Amanda Hadingue, Jack James, Claire Little, Matthew Pideon and Barry Power.