21 February 2010

Review: Dispatch

Barking Spider Visual Theatre
7 February 2010
fortyfive downstairs

'To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub.' Freud, Jung and countless others have tried, but that old playwright still said it best. Storytellers feed on dreams.

Shakespeare knew Hamlet welcomed and feared the state where our unconscious makes us feel what we most fear or most desire, while our logical consciousness tries to break through and make us feel safe. Dreams may be gone when we wake, but their pure emotion stays with us long after we’ve tried to make sense of them and the memory had faded.

Dream sequences abound in our published and filmed stories, but they rarely feel right; there’s too much logic and they make far too much sense. For all our analysis and dream interpretation, the horror and comfort of our dreams fails to fall into the step by step progression of our waking lives.

But storytellers still love dreams. The world of Barking Spider’s Dispatch is heightened and secret, hidden and intimate. It seems to make sense, even if logic and sense insist that it shouldn’t. A blue silk sea drowns and protects, a cradle of bones sooths, the suitcases of the lost reveal hope, a child near death creates a new world to resists the influence of her gods, her protectors, her demons and her puppeteers.

The meeting of puppet and controller/creator is fraught with clashes of logic, but in the Dispatch dreamscape, it makes complete sense and the meeting of tiny Sorrel and the giant Mama Brigitte and Gheda is both heartbreaking and beautiful, as they gently offer comfort and peace, as well as the secrets and pain of death.

Penelope Bartlau openly used her own dreams and the memories of her near death experiences as a child to create Dispatch. Her work continues to create delicate, intricate worlds where puppets reach our hearts and remind us what the great psychoanalysers, dream interpreters and bards keep trying to tell us – that we may all be connected by a world within our being that is forever out of our control.

Sleep tight.

This review appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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