Review: Uneasy Dreams and Other Things
Directed by Sara Brodie.
Written by Lori Leigh.
Uneasy Dreams and Other Things is a glorious, hilarious (in some places) piece of theatre, inspired by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
However, instead of turning into a giant bug overnight, our reluctant heroine, Samantha (Lydia Peckham), grows a penis. She spends the entirety of the play trying to deal with her new appendage, and actually grows to like it. (While the others around her do not.)
It’s a fascinating concept to explore in a piece of theatre, because the reactions of Samantha’s loved ones surely mimic the reactions of those in the audience. Samantha’s husband, Greg (Matthew Staijen-Leach) is repulsed – he cannot move past the change, despite loving his wife – Sam’s friend Reta (Johanna Cosgrove) is fascinated – and a little turned on – and her flatmate Fran (Arlo Gibson) is mostly just confused.
Ideologically, what are we? People or parts?
Uneasy Dreams does a damn good job at making us think about it.
It’s a powerful, feminist tale of misogyny, identity and relationships, spiced up by 80s pop ballads performed by local band STI (Liam Kelly, Peter Scriven, with support from Gibson) – their full name has something to do with insects (because of, you know, Metamorphosis), but I’ve forgotten it.
A favourite scene of mine was when Reta turns up at Sam’s, a tad plastered, and tries to get her to have sex with her. She’s drunk, yes, but she seems to think that because Sam’s got a penis now, she’ll happily cheat on her husband and hook up with her. It’s eye-opening, because Sam’s caught in this mid-ground – she’s Reta’s friend, she’s not really an object of sexual attraction to her, but she’s also got a penis (so Reta kinda sees her as one). It’s a very unique way to look at gender, and I’m glad it was discussed.
The whole performance feels very slick and thoroughly well-conceived. Leigh’s characters are well-rounded and very strong – and the cast played their parts beautifully. Excellent music and a strong design concept added to the mix.
While the discussion of sex vs identity may feel a little brute force to some, I absolutely urge you to go and see this play. It’ll make you consider your own identity in another light. This play feels very, very important, and I’m sure it’ll stem many incredible conversations to come.
Uneasy Dreams and Other Things is on at Circa Theatre in Wellington until the 27th of October, 2018. Tickets are available from Circa’s website.