Bunker Theatre 12th & 19th November
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
Monkhead Theatre certainly relish a challenge. Adapting Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams would be enough to make companies sweat, but Chloë Myerson and Nico Pimparé appear to have thought, “Hey! Let’s go the extra mile and create a rapid response night!”
This ambitious approach, with four writers contributing short pieces on different sections of the book, pays of brilliantly, creating an admittedly confusing but entertaining show. The pieces are linked by Tom Blake, Martha Owen and Joshua Jacob acting as comperes whilst dealing with their own complicated feelings and relationships. Josh Field’s film and the accompanying narration creates a mesmeric, dreamlike state as the concept of the theatre being the conscious mind and unruly audience members being repressed thoughts that are thrown out to the unconscious mind (the theatre bar), along with other, colder, definitions from Freud are presented.
I don’t know much about Freud or psychology, but even I picked up on the main themes. The use of movement and sound adds to the soothing, yet unsettling rhythm of the text and it never feels like a celebration of the cleverness of the creative team – rather we are all exploring this together.
There were two standout performances, one from Finlay Paul as a grieving man coming to terms with the guilt he felt after the death of his brother in Can’t You See That I’m Burning? by Chloë Myerson (also the piece of writing that was the most emotionally engaging): Paul captured the torment and guilt of grief brewing under the determinedly cheerful but increasingly thinning veneer of cheerfulness wonderfully. Joshua Jacob also impressed with his slightly goofy and puppyish enthusiasm heightening the energy when themes could spiral into despair. Even his ultimate disappointment draws pantomime “awwws”, such is his easy connection with the audience.
This isn’t an easy watch – it’s thoroughly entertaining but concentration is needed, and even then, there will be moments of wondering what the hell is going on, but that seems wonderfully appropriate for The Interpretation of Dreams.