Immersive theatre is rapidly becoming more and more popular in the theatrical world, and The Vaults is a space that is helping to accommodate more and more of this style of theatre, in this instance Baz Productions’ Dreamplay.
Now, the show isn’t a coherent story, but I think this was the desired effect, as it was a series of stories under the theme they describe as “a dream of anxiety, mischief and fear.” In my opinion, this was a little to broad, as it was difficult to remain engaged with the piece, as I wasn’t particularly sure what it was trying to achieve or tell me. It didn’t have something that held the show together, which made the piece rather vague. I am not suggesting that all theatre needs to be a coherent story with a start middle and end, but I left feeling unsure of what I had just seen, or what I was meant to take away from it.
The show is immersive; a medium I greatly admire and think has the power to transport audiences in a way a classic show setup may struggle to do. Naomi Kuyck-Cohen and Joshua Gadsby’s set is phenomenal, almost art rather than a set, and they use The Vaults to it’s full potential. The diversity of the set and the way it was tailored to each scene was the very foundation of the show, and one of my favourite elements.
The best way I can describe the show is a series of scenes, and one that really showed the piece off to it’s full potential was the penultimate scene, in which Jack Wilkinson’s character (they are all unnamed) tells us about the events in a seaside town. The set is a large reflective piece of metal, and some other simple pieces, but what really struck me was in this huge concrete room, you could hear the trains rumbling above. This set up an incredible atmosphere, and Wilkinson used this beautifully, drawing us in and transporting us to the world he was describing with ease and flair.
The show is very different to most theatre on in London at the moment but that isn’t a bad thing. I guess the piece was encouraging each audience member to take something different away, but I feel that if we had been given a little more direction, it would have been far easier to engage with the show. Nonetheless, it was an interesting evening, and parts of the show were truly touching.
Reviewed by Kara Taylor Alberts (@karaalberts)
Dreamplay plays at The Vaults until 1 October 2016