Thursday, August 30, 2012

Theatre of unreality

Last night I went to see Hysteria at the Oxford Playhouse, written and directed by Terry Johnson. It was a slightly odd mixture of farce and serious drama about the origins of trauma in childhood abuse. Possibly without the farcical elements, it might have been harder to watch, because more painful. It was a good counterpoint to the film A Dangerous Method, about Jung, Spielrein and Freud. Anthony Sher was brilliant as Freud (better than Viggo Mortensen by quite a long chalk). The play hinged around a case history where Freud had initially concluded that the patient had been abused as a child, and then changed his mind when it became apparent to him that most of the upper echelons of Viennese society were child-molesters. I seem to remember something along those lines in the history of psychoanalysis. Dalí also made an appearance and there was a bit when the whole set turned into a Dalí painting, including a melting clock (I don't know how they did that, but it was very clever). So, all in all, a brilliant production, very thought-provoking.

Last week, I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in the gardens of Wadham College, performed by the Oxford Shakespeare Company. It was an utterly, utterly brilliant and magical performance. A really beautiful production. The actors were very physical in their performance, they put life into the lines, the costumes were great, the space was magical, the lighting was magical. I thought the extra bridging dialogue that they had inserted was a little unnecessary, but funny all the same.

Both plays dealt with reality not being quite what it seems, but in very different ways.

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