A bearded man in a dressing gown and bare feet approaches you on the street corner. He asks if you dreamed last night.
So begins ___day Night’s Dream. As you wait on the corner of Victoria Parade and Bouverie Street to be taken up to the sixteenth floor of a nearby apartment building, this actor’s questions and stories prompt you to think through just what it is of your dreams you remember, and how it is such fragments, such non narrative experiences, stick in our minds and inevitably become stories. The audience are lead through a shiny new apartment building, into an elevator and around pristine corners, and into an apartment that is so tidy it is hard to imagine it as anything other than a performance space.
Here, the private becomes public, and the public, private. Gone are the proscenium arch stages and thick theatre make up. Instead, the little crowd can see each other as clearly as the performers, and the performers can see them (except for one, seated at a computer blindfolded). The audience is separated, broken into clusters of three or four to witness each retelling of dreams. The actors are captivating, but at times their words seem to slide right off your ears. Each monologue is wound tightly and well performed, but it’s hard not to wish for a written copy – a blank page to help you absorb the language and appreciate the quality of the writing. Yet in a way even this frustrating quality is dreamlike – the narrative slips in and out of focus, concentration is difficult and remembering impossible.
___day Night’s Dream embraces the fringe aspect of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, a true exploration of concept rather than fringeifide conventional theatre. The production is a returned, updated version of last year’s Mudfest production of the same name, having been the recipient of a festival award to cover the registration fee. As with its previous iteration, each of the dreams is imported direct from the unconscious of the performers.
This is a short review, because unpicking this performance really requires that both parties have seen it, perhaps even twice. It’s a production that requires discussion. Perhaps its only generally agreed upon criticism is that it does not end clearly enough – the audience are left standing in a courtyard, watching actors pretend to sleep, while residents of the building stride past, unfazed. While, once again, this decision can be brought back to the dream experience, that wakeful disorientation when you’re not sure if you’re still asleep, still dreaming, or back in the motion of the every day, sometimes you need to wake with a start – both from performance and from sleep.
____day Night’s Dream is on as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival on the 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 29th and 30th of September, as well as the 1st of October. There are two performances each night, one at 8pm and the other at 10pm. Tickets cost $25 or $20 concession, and are available here.