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HomeUKThe Fantastic World of Dissocia at Theatre Royal Stratford East: deliciously free

The Fantastic World of Dissocia at Theatre Royal Stratford East: deliciously free

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profane, madcap, Alice-in-Wonderland journey morphs into one thing rather more profound in Anthony Neilson’s weirdly compelling 2004 examine of psychological instability. I’ve not often seen a play made up of two such tonally totally different acts: and right here a succinct and shifting second half contextualises and clarifies the ragtag, playful first. Emma Baggott’s revival is grounded from starting to finish by a effective central efficiency from Leah Harvey, targeted and magnetic amid exterior and inner dysfunction.

Harvey, who makes use of the pronouns they/them, performs Lisa, apparently a younger lady in a contemporary metropolis: our solely anchor in time or place is that she listens to an iPod. Lisa is dispatched by a watchmender to the summary world of Dissocia to search out the hour of her life she misplaced when getting back from New York. The watchmender drinks urine, by the way in which – different folks’s, not his personal – and Dissocia is reached by an imaginary carry that goes sideways, in addition to up and down.

As soon as on this absurdist, cartoonish realm, the cool and logical Lisa interacts at size with two uniformed males who’re determined to be preferred. They’re INSECURITY Guards! Neilson overeggs this gag, and subsequent ones a couple of cloven-hoofed ruminant who desires to be blamed for every thing (a scapegoat, geddit?) and a sizzling canine stand that was a misplaced property workplace till it obtained misplaced.

When the scapegoat tries to violate Lisa – and a feminine council official takes her place with a purpose to get sufferer numbers, if not crime numbers, down – it’s the primary signal of one thing darker than late-period Python. That Dissocia has misplaced its queen and is below assault from the forces of the Black Canine hints that Lisa’s misplaced hour is a metaphor for melancholy.

Marc Brenner

Neilson initially workshopped this play with drama college students, which can be why it feels deliciously free, bordering on random. The jokes are hilarious, typically edgy, concurrently intelligent and daft. There are two songs, once more Pythonesque: a wry meditation on the character of time from Lisa, and a lightweight tune about demise from a teddy bear in a swimsuit.

Baggott conducts the primary half like a superior panto, on primary-coloured cutout units by Grace Sensible, with deadly-earnest performances from a effective solid. It’s very humorous, if typically pressured and rambling. Laughing alongside, I puzzled why on earth Baggott had revived one thing so ephemeral.

The second half introduced me bracingly again to earth: in pin sharp, snapshot scenes, it deftly suggests the medical and emotional burdens that Lisa is below, necessitating her escape to Dissocia. Neilson will make jokes about absolutely anything, however he doesn’t trivialise or romanticise psychological sickness in any respect.

Harvey meets every twist of the script with regular aplomb, whereas the supporting ensemble furnish a vivid gallery of grotesques. I can perceive why some would possibly abandon this play at half time. However belief me: the expertise is remodeled in the event you keep.

Theatre Royal Stratford East, to fifteen Oct; stratfordeast.com


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