Wildest Dreams


Alan Ayckbourn

Cast & Crew
Kath Perry, Suzanne Hauser,
Steven Blanks, Helena George, Dave Kirkham, David McElroy,
Ashleigh May and Brett Neville.
Hecate - Design
Roz Riley - Director

Reviewed by Braddo('s Brekky Serial; the antidote to Alan Jones; 6-8 Thursdays; Triple R; FM 88.5).
It's (Sir) Alan Ayckbourn's 44th (!) play, a good decade-and-a-half old, but renewed and revitalised by Factory Space (www.factoryspace.org), enjoying its 10th anniversary (no mean feat, for any independent theatre in this sportmad land), under the expert directorial guidance of Roz Riley, one of the unsung heroines and mainstays of Sydney theatre. ‘Wildest Dreams’ is a bleak, dystopian vision of co-dependent, pathological relationships, forged in a northern English suburban vacuum; it could equally be set in Wichita, or Wollongong.
The particular, preferred unreality of this not-so-fab four is a dungeons-and-dragons style fantasy world, indulged at regular intervals, and in which each can play out his or her idealised self. Here they are veritable Greek gods and goddesses: beautiful; wise; self-assured; heroic. For all its unsettling weirdness (but is it any weirder than telediction to Big Brother, Idol, or the 'net?!), there is, nonetheless, a comforting, internal equilibrium, until an attractive stranger breaks the circle, and spell, with enchantments of her own; a part played with menacing ease by the statuesque Suzanne Hauser.
What makes this drama so deeply disturbing are, perhaps, (not-so-)faint resonances to all our lives; the most horrifying fact of these lives isn't that they lose themselves in utter fantasy, but that they must, in order to avoid pain and trauma, also notable for its familiarity. Ah, there's the rub (it's fitting to paraphrase Shakespeare, as Sir Al is the second most-performed English language playwright)! Ayckbourn is chilling in his perspicacious observance of ordinary lives, wracked by extraordinary exterior and interior havoc.
Each and all comes undone, skeletons rattling out of closets left, right and centre-stage. The prospect of facing personal demons is teased-out masterfully by author and cast, who seem to have grasped the intent and nuances as if AA himself were lurking behind the curtain. Are these monsters better out, than in? As in life, it's somewhat questionable.
Ghosts, truth, longing, love, lost youth, regret, the almost ethereally elusive nature of opportunity: these are but some of the themes poked and prodded by a prodigious penman.
Yet, fear not, Dreams is not without glimmers of light and, even, uproarious humour, not least in veteran Kath Perry's consummate characterisation of a juvenile. It's no wonder so many companies still look to Ayckers for accessible meaning: 'though composed in the still formative years of computer games, its relevance has been remarkably raised as humanity, en masse, launches, lemming-like, headlong, into indiscriminate cyberspace:
It's been at the idyllically-situated Star of the Sea Theatre, a charming architectural excursion, where Factory Space, happily, resides, on the corner Collingwood Street and Iluka Avenue, Manly, since Thursday, April 20.
In this, its final week, it can be seen at 7.30, Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 4, 5 & 6), for the very reasonable ask of $25 ($20 concession; group discounts available). For more information, to book (highly recommended), or subscribe (stay tuned: FS will present 4 plays, at its home, this year!) please telephone 9439 1906.
As well as the aforementioned (thankfully) 'usual supects', several newcomers to the ensemble are to be noted, including Steven Blanks, Helena George, Dave Kirkham, David McElroy, Ashleigh May and Brett Neville. The rather clunky design is by Hecate.
You won't find Ayckbourn's incisive, ever-topical wit, better realised, anywhere else, I shouldn't think.
Wildest Dreams - photographed by John Reeves