Eloise Jones as Alex in Dissociated

‘Exploring the dark corners where memory hides’: DISSOCIATED – Etcetera Theatre

In London theatre, Musicals, Native, Opinion, Plays, Reviews, Ticket recommendations, Twitter, Video by Shyama Perera

Etcetera Theatre, London – until 26 October 2019

There are some really interesting ideas in Dissociated, from the exploration of a woman’s psyche during continuous nights of conscious sleep to the fact that the traumas she unearths are punctuated with singing and dancing. When we meet Alex, there is clearly something complex going on inside her head. She explores her feelings with a doppelganger who appears in her dreams, and shape-shifts into different people, and different stages, from Alex’s life. Sometimes she is Alex herself. It becomes clear that Alex’s inability to sleep, and her nocturnal ruminations, are connected to an event or events in childhood.

A large piñata – a colourful number 6 – hangs in one corner at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden and is regularly hit to take us to the next staging post. We recognise it is a clue, but to what? Through glimpses of future and the past, a mirror to Alex’s soul, we explore the dark corners where memory hides. What is the reason for her disassociation, and will confronting it release her from her pain?

Dissociated is a new play with music from Skitzoid Productions. Written by a psychotherapist, Dave Bain, it boasts quirky songs, with playful choreography devised by the lead actor, Eloise Jones. Jones is solid as Alex, and it is her ability to change tone and mood across the evening that creates the dramatic high points.

The difficulty with which she, and we, grapple, is the unstructured script. It is written to reflect the way Alex is seeing her world: an exploration of her inner self (played by Georgia Imrie). For those of us looking through the window, a better-defined journey is required to prevent disengagement. There is insufficient drama and tension. The main movement in the space comes from the placing and retrieving of props within the audience.

The songs add lightness and texture, but a lot more could be drawn out by cutting back on the continuous dialogue and finding actions and activities that would take us closer to the heart of the lead character. The occasional foray into the audience should create intimacy but, in many ways, it underscores Alex’s alienation from us all.

Shyama Perera on Twitter
Shyama Perera
Shyama Perera is a novelist and broadcaster. She has been a judge on both the Olivier Awards panel and their Affiliate Awards panel. She ran the Monkey Matters Theatre Reviews website for six years and reviewed for local papers and BBC London before realising it’s much more fun being part of a lively team. She is delighted to be one of My Theatre Mates.

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Shyama Perera on Twitter
Shyama Perera
Shyama Perera is a novelist and broadcaster. She has been a judge on both the Olivier Awards panel and their Affiliate Awards panel. She ran the Monkey Matters Theatre Reviews website for six years and reviewed for local papers and BBC London before realising it’s much more fun being part of a lively team. She is delighted to be one of My Theatre Mates.