Review: Dreamland

Hyperdrive Theatre
Zoo Southside – until August 27th
4 Stars (4 / 5)

Dreamland is a frantic and frenetic statement on cut-throat consciousness set against the backdrop of the financial crisis of 2008.

The script, the brainchild of Ella Donaldson, who also takes on, with finesse, the role of the boss who is eventually supplanted by the man she give a leg up, is tight and humorous, ending in a glorious call-back. Particularly successful are the smutty conversations about impersonal sex which never fail to provoke a well-earned laugh, both owing to the surgical timing and delivery of supporting actors Molly Byrne and James Matthews who give the most nuanced and believable performances of the piece, and whose chemistry together is an contributive asset – if you will pardon the pun. The crowning comedic moment is a slapstick where the leading man, by this point an unsympathetic character, has to dispose of the contents of a coffee cup containing his semen in the predictable fashion to hide it from a colleague. If the audience saw it coming, they didn’t seem to mind (if you will pardon the pun.) It has everyone in stitches and the actors have to stop while we calm down.

Elfiop Ap Cadno, in the role of Johnny, the tragic nice guy who sells his integrity to hide his lack of competence to get ahead, plays nasty man better than likable oaf. Based upon his performance in a job interview scene, I see nothing in him that would actualyl give the boss reason to hire him, but she does. His best moments are when his character is called to be more theatrical, banter, and go over the top. He comes into his own. In the opening monologue he gets his first reaction at the line, “-but you’re not here to hear about all that, you’re here to hear about me. Johnny” – because he shows his more down-to-earth, human side. Whenever this comes through his performance is compelling, unfortunately some of his dialogue lacks a natural feel, something that could be improved.

Director, Sam Edmunds, dreams up plenty of interesting to keep the piece visually compelling.