REVIEW: A Dream Play, University Drama Studio

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Director Bethan Ratcliffe has chosen an ambitious project with Caryl Churchill’s adaptation of August Strinberg’s play but her SuTCo compatriots have come up with the goods.

Strinberg had a difficult psychological profile to say the least and this is reflected in the surreal subject material. However Churchill has trimmed and updated it into something reasonably coherent and cohesive.

Jade Richards is believable and effective as beautiful Agnes a God’s daughter who becomes human to witness suffering first hand. In her brief earthly sojourn she becomes involved with three men. Andy Elkington’s poverty stricken solicitor melts her heart before she runs off with happy go lucky soldier Matthew Plant leaving Elkington literally holding the baby. Finally she is attracted to writer Daniel Turner who searches for meaning and purpose through verse.

There’s an inspired scene before Agnes shuffles off this mortal coil when all the characters from her life appear in reverse order with a backwards-playing musical soundtrack. Another thought provoking scene is the opening of the fridge door to find the “meaning of life”. The emptiness causes consternation amongst scientists and clergy. However if life is just a game it would spoil it by looking at the answer sheet.

The set is creative with a large tree at the rear presumably representing life. Choreographer Kate Butler uses Tegan Shea and Zoe Greenhill to show life is a dance. There’s even a Stage Door sign nod to “All the world’s a stage” from As You Like It. Even nursery children know that “life is but a dream”.