As the audience enters the BATS’ Heyday Dome Theatre, they are immediately confronted with an extreme close-up of a hazel eye projected on a soft, white gauze curtain. A recently-awoken voice-over explains last night’s strange dream of cool kid politics, pineapple soup and the housing market. The lights dim and the audience settles as if falling asleep, to enter 60 minutes of REM.
Danielle (Rebecca Parker) and Tim (Sepelini Mau’au) attempt to unwind from their Midsummer Night’s Dream tour. As they settle into the futuristic hotel, their relaxation is stalled by unwelcome concierges (Loren Whithair and Sophia Elisabeth), false fire alarms and safety checks. Danielle finally slips into sleep while her room’s TV cycles through random channels. Ping-pong matches and soap opera clips are projected on the back white wall. The lights go down again and the dream begins.
As Danielle’s dream leaks on to the stage I notice how appropriate the Dome Theatre is for this performance. The concave glass dome above becomes Danielle’s pupil, thrusting the audience behind her eyes and into her subconscious. Here we discover her recurring insecurities and deep desires clash with the trivial encounters of the previous day.
The conciergeries become Dani (Whithair) and Elle (Elisabeth), our protagonist’s dream tour guides. With the help of Tim, the trio change the space and genre throughout the dream. The transitions are magical. Parker’s performance is impressively fluid as she changes mood, posture and even age with each scene. One moment she is stuck running in slow motion, then next she is a toddler walking precariously along the edge of a table.
Larger than life props like tall poppies and a man dressed as a bureaucratic cream bun bring the oddity of dreams to life. The actors nail comedic timing in the absurdity of the dream world. Jaunas creates a satisfying balance of oddity and sorrow through this strange narrative.
The captivating visuals from the projections have the potential to explore installation art akin to Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms. The intensity of the dreams would have been heightened through a promenade theatre so the audience could be fully immersed in the dream world along with Danielle.
The Dream suggests the involuntary visual experiences we have at night can offer a huge insight into our fears and values. The Dream prompts us to pay attention to our dreams. Decode them to explore what makes you happy, grieve and if you should reconsider that platonic relationship.
The Dream is currently showing at BATS Theatre until Saturday 9 February. It is a part of the 6 Degrees Festival, the final projects of MFA theatre students at Victoria University of Wellington. To book tickets, visit the BATS Theatre website. To find out more about the 6 Degrees Festival, visit their website.