Writer Anthony Neilson has created a fantastical world unlike any other I have seen on the London stage with ‘The Wonderful World of Dissocia’ currently on at the Red Hedgehog Theatre in Highgate. He’s been quoted as saying “If you like Alice in Wonderland but there’s not enough sex and violence in it, then Dissocia is the show for you”. I couldn’t have said it any better.
Our Alice in this story is Lisa Jones (Charlotte Reid) who is on the hunt to find one lost hour which she lost on a transatlantic flight back to England from New York. This lost hour has thrown her whole life off kilter and she is determined to get it back. When she finally gets to Dissocia she finds the people to be wonderfully quirky, funny , warm and also malicious. It has a range of characters from a scapegoat to a puppet to a surreal hot dog seller.
In some ways I felt the Red Hedgehog Theatre was the perfect space and at the same time not so perfect space to do this piece due to the fact that it’s really difficult to see much if you’re in the second row. However, the theatre ‘s eccentric decor matched perfectly with the eccentricity of the play. The stage was basically a red box with a red door which was transformed into an apartment and even a hot dog stand. For such a restricted space I thought Director William Seaward did a good job of staging it especially the musical bit ! (yes there’s a musical bit as well!)
The play is a really physical piece and the cast was definitely up to the task .I loved the goofy, sarcastic portrayal of “Insecurity Guards” by both Ben Kavanagh and George Fouracres. Abi Tedder’s Victim Concentration Officer, Jane was also absolutely hilarious . Tedder has superb comedic timing and her characters were consistently well-pitched. The fantastical world of Dissocia disappears in the second act to a hospital room with just the nurse played again by Tedder and the patient played by Reid. Their interactions were tender and the stark contrast with the first act of the play was fitting. I liked that we were brought back to reality to see how this story was going to play out. Sadly I don’t think very well.
The Wonderful World of Dissocia is playing at the Red Hedgehog Theatre until 28 July. For more information and tickets, see the Red Hedgehog Theatre website. – http://www.theredhedgehog.co.uk/