Deborah Eve Rea’s portrayal of Dala is well rounded, complexly demonstrating a strong maternal front while also able to show what’s going on under the surface. This is played convincingly and she grounds the production with her believable performance.
The character of Angie, as performed by Susannah Donovan, is prone to nervousness and over reaction. She is the comedic foil for Dala and Timothy to bounce off, adding sparks of light to the dark tale.
Other sparks can be credited to the children’s chorus, who manifest the dreamscapes imbued with small surprises. Special mention go out to the Pirate gang whose snappy dialogue injected fresh energy into the role.
Ole ala the Sandman is presented as a trickster by James Locke. He grooves around the stage with his dilated arms in a soft sway. His character was most vibrant when he was himself laughing, which allowed us to understand his otherworldliness. He also could come towards the front of the stage more to fully occupy his role as mediator between the realities of performance and audience.
Jimmy, is played admirably by Roderick O’Connor, this is the rare case of a 12 year old being played by an actual youth. Playfully responding off his co-stars, his unpredictability forces attention.
Lana Burn’s script is dense and poetic, with many recurring motifs weaving reality and fantasy together. This creates some interesting payoffs towards the end, however exactly how much power the fantastic elements have over the reality is uncertain? How much power does Ole really have in the real world? I was also left unsure as to what the super natural beings motivation was.
The set presents warm colours under dreary duress, evoking the wretched house. However some set pieces got in the way of the action, causing some awkward blocking and difficult entrances and exits. Some of the set pieces could have doubled over for use in other scenes to reduce the clutter on the stage. The play also lacked sound for the most part, which could have assisted the atmosphere.
I will say that the play features heavy themes and the contrast of issues of child abuse being explored with actual children is hard to condone. I am all for children performing theatre, however it felt problematic in a show which should legitimately have trigger warnings, especially as their classmates are likely to attend. I would also speak out to production crew to reword the memo in the program as it comes off as dismissive.
Nightmare is a warm spirited community project presenting a dark and gritty drama. Excited to see the future potential of Lana Burns and Julia Campbell’s work in this realm.