Will Dickie is bouncing. As people enter the theatre, as they order drinks and greet friends, he mingles amongst them, constantly bouncing. When the show ‘officially’ starts he informs us he has been bouncing for 22 minutes.
Dressed in a light shirt and grey trousers, Dickie is a ball of nervous energy. His one-act show, White Sun, is described as “A lo fi solo symphony of words and movement.”
Taking us on a tour through his life, Will aims to navigate the tensions of inheritance, privilege and addiction whilst pursuing a life in the creative arts, referencing actors who have come before him and the relationship he has with his father.
Dickie’s performance is a bag of contradictions. There is no set, yet there is a sense of immersion. He doesn’t stop moving, yet his frenetic movements feel drilled and precisely mapped. The dialogue flows with a poetic style that almost nods to the likes of Lin Manuel Miranda but then comes to a grinding halt and descends into the spasmodic grunts of someone seemingly on the verge of a breakdown.
It looks on the surface like a major piece of self-indulgence yet presented with healthy doses of self-awareness – Dickie verbalises the audience’s curiosity as to why he won’t stop moving, or that indeed, he is conscious of possible accusations of pretension, as he claims with a wry smile that the show is one output of a £30k investment in private education.
The characterisation is compelling enough with an enjoyable and amusing exploration of the competitive dynamic in the relationship with his father. The support from director Peader Kirk, Dramaturgist Kaite O’Reilly and Movement Director Fabiola Santana brings in focus and confidence. Ethan Hudson’s occasional thrumming soundscape and lighting that fade in and out add to the atmosphere – unifying Will with the audience and then isolating him.
But despite the self-awareness, it’s hard to shake a nagging sense that this remains a superficial piece of work that invokes the kind of pet peeves and clichés that one associates with arty fringe theatre.
It treads a fine line between whimsy and self-importance and, as Dickie returns to bouncing and invites his audience to creep away, a niggling impression of futility. If there’s no solution or great truth, merely parody that acknowledges the existence of white male privilege, then what really is the point?
For more information on Will Dickie, visit http://www.willdickie.co.uk/white-sun.html
Reviewed: Lou Steggals
Reviewed: 21st April 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★