The Wonderful World of Dissocia
This play, written and directed by Anthony Neilson is touring the country and currently playing at the Theatre Royal, York. First performed as part of the 2004 Edinburgh Festival, the National Theatre of Scotland production brings together the original cast.
Dissocia is a country, a world, of infinite possibilities, not unlike Alice’s Wonderland, and it also houses the constant threat of sudden violent acts. It stretches your mind and your imagination, showing you all kinds of sensual beauty and humour while not letting you forget that there is much to fear. It is a metaphor for mania, a debilitating mental illness.
In the second half of the play, Lisa Montgomery Jones (Christine Entwisle), our patient and guide of the first-half, has left Dissocia behind and is hospitalized and undergoing drug therapy. She is hapless, sluggish, enslaved, numb, sad.
Although the play deals head-on with the subject of mental illness, its core is about the experiences of sensation and numbness, which are familiar to all of us.
The two halves of the play are a collage. You have to put them together. And the result is intensely moving.
Anyone interested in theatre and the state of modern theatre should see this play. It is quite unlike anything else you are likely to see on the British stage. The first half is a surrealistic riot of colour and sound, the outpourings of Lisa’s mind, a progression of contemporary cultural references. And the shock and dramatic impact when the curtain rises on the bleak and sealed second half of the play allows the cast to drive their message home in little more than whispers.
With: Christine Entwisle, James Cunningham, Alan Francis, Amanda Hadingue, Jack James, Claire Little, Matthew Pidgeon, and Barnaby Power.
Design: Miriam Buether
Lighting: Chahine Yavroyan
Sound/Composer: Nick Powell
Presented by the National Theatre of Scotland
22nd to 26th May 2007 Theatre Royal, York
6th to 9th June Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
12th to 16th June Northern Stage, Newcastle
After the performance last night the cast, together with writer/director Anthony Neilson, stayed behind for a discussion with about a hundred die-hards from the audience. Many members of the cast were visibly exhausted, having given their all in a series of very demanding roles. But all were obviously in another sense, invigorated with the excitement of being involved in such an imaginative and stirring production.
All in all, then, it was a good night, a night to remember. A privilege.
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