Tuesday, May 28

Psychodrama – Battersea Arts Centre

Sleepwalk Collective and Christopher Brett Bailey’s experimental piece is a fusion of titillation, poetic imagery and philosophical exploration. From the get-go, there is an overt sense that we are audience members with an assumed passive role, and we are reminded of the undulating relationship between the collective and our anonymity. It feels like we are slowly spacing out into a nebulous, creative void. There is terror and excitement and freshness, and we feel oddly safe as we enter it, guided by the two characters (Christopher and Lara) who feel just as lost as we are.

Fragmented and episodic, the script is disorientating as it whispered through headphones, both soothing and unsettling like an ASMR. Its ambiguous storyline begins to piece together later in the play. With evocative, rich dialogue it leaves you floating, suspended like static in a place between reality and fantasy.

iara Solana Arana’s set and Metcalfe’s lighting are the perfect blend of minimalism and extravagance, satisfying the erotic demands and niche aesthetic of the play. Lighting changes are seamless and effective. The absurd, empty feel of television frames are used ingeniously, reminiscent of childhood nostalgia with a sinister tinge. The sound design is just as innovative and is unlike anything I have experienced before.

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Lurid, wacky Christopher and Lara are cartoonish but simultaneously strangely profound and human in their self-awareness and scrupulous self-investigation. They have a groundless quality and strong senses of character in knowing that they are fragmented amalgamations of material that they have absorbed. The use of the actors’ names for the characters makes the play all the more elusive as it transcends the fiction of the stage. Both iara Solana Arana and Christopher Brett Bailey are consistent in their erotic intensity throughout, giving suspenseful performances.

This is an unnerving piece of work that invites us to examine our blind spots, which would reveal an inconsistent sense of self. With references to drama therapy, the play itself serves as a therapeutic vice to delve into the subconscious mind. It is imaginative, inventive and unapologetic and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in psychology, surrealism or in exploring the unknown.

Playing until 9th April, https://bac.org.uk/whats-on/psychodrama/

Reviewer: Riana Howarth

Reviewed: 24th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★