In Your Dreams

Mon 22nd – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Catherine Kitsis

at 17:16 on 22nd Aug 2011

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'In Your Dreams' by Jeanie Jones tells the story of a six-strong acting troupe who attempt to rehearse for their production of 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'. Egos clash, love lives intertwine, actors reflect upon the idiosyncrasies of the profession and those who are drawn to it, and events begin to echo William Shakespeare’s dream play in a strange and very modern way.

My primary problem with this piece is that it sets out to do a lot in a very short space of time. In a running time of well under an hour it seeks to analyse the nature of being an actor via a series of monologues, develop six individual characters and tell a complicated love story which is based upon the changing romantic affiliations of Helena, Hermia, Demetrius and Lysander. There are some genuinely funny moments and some very well conceived ideas. For example, matters reach a head when the character playing the role of Puck drugs everyone by spiking their tea with a ‘truth serum’ leading to a scene where the antics that take place in the wood near Athens are reinvented in the guise of a bunch of young actors off their faces on drugs. However, instead of being allowed to develop and finally resolve, the action just stops in the most frustrating way.

The cast seemed to be very talented, although there were a couple of confusing accents to decipher. However, with the action of the play being such a non-event I can understand if they found it hard to find energy – I found myself wanting both cast and script just to kick it up a gear or two. This was a shame – the atmosphere surrounding the characters was warm and endearing, and if the piece had really delivered it could have been very moving.

Much of the philosophical side of the script, where each character steps outside the action and gives the audience an insight into the workings of their stereotypical actor hang-ups, was not without insight. Most actors watching the piece will recognise something – the insecurity, the self-loathing, the struggle to believe in your own abilities – but I doubt that anything was observed that does not come up regularly in conversations when a few luvvies get together for an evening of drinks.

If you are looking for something that will blow you away then maybe 'In Your Dreams' isn’t for you, but this piece is not without merit – the script has potential and the cast makes a gallant effort at bringing it to life.

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Kate Abnett

at 12:33 on 23rd Aug 2011

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A play within a play within a play, this show revolves around Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Beginning with a monologue about acting, in which a theatre director mocks her cast’s feelings of being “in the moment” and the “escape” that their craft gives them, this is a very self-aware piece of writing.

The plot follows the dramatic relationships of an amateur theatre troupe, both on and off stage. Also interesting is characters’ discussions of what ‘brought them to’ Shakespeare, although references to “R and J” (although at least it wasn’t ‘Rom and Jules’) were slightly squirm-inducing.

The cast fill their roles well. Although none of the roles demand performances like the bard’s heroes do, good acting gives the audience a few surprises - a childish teen lad is shown to have a darker side , and his playful nature drew a parallel between his own personality and Puck, his character in the play. However, the acting did feel largely amateur, and a in a fight between two of the characters, one insult – “you couldn’t act your way out of a church hall” – was uncomfortably apt in fringe venue Greenside, a church hall. The script is largely unexciting, but the normality of characters is engaging, and when theatre director Lucy whined about her love rival “her tits are better than mine”, the audience actually aww-ed.

Moments of humour were well placed – when actor Nick has a strop about his character in a A Midsummer Night’s Dream rehearsal, scouse lass Robyn chides “Yeah mate, it’s the writing that’s crap”.

Some silly plot-lines didn’t ring true, but were quite fun to watch. While the set and props used were very minimal, a few pieces of music assisted in creating a scene that had some reall poignancy.

Completely unpretentious, this piece is a gentle study of both relationships and Shakespeare. It successfully interweaves the relatively unromantic dramas of modern life with Shakespeare’s beautiful verse.

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