Technically brilliant, but left unmoved by play's protagonist
Watching the multimedia performance Dreamweaver was like spending an hour in a Dali painting.
Time and space were distorted and it was difficult to tell what was real and what was fantasy, but the experience was nevertheless intriguing and intellectually stimulating. It was certainly like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Monday's show, under the auspices of the Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts, used a variety of media including slide shows, video, photo-montage, audio recordings and live music.
The production explores a number of themes about the nature of reality and existence, truth and story heavy stuff for an evening's entertainment. It interweaves the stories of seven characters, six of which may or may not be part of the life of night-time radio DJ Jimmy Dee, known as 'The Nightfly', portrayed live by David Chocron.
Jimmy Dee was at one point the “drive-home darling” of the Tri-state area. His evolution as a radio personality was monitored closely in the print media. His demise is recorded in a series of newspaper clippings projected onto the large screen before the show begins. It portrays the fickleness of the public as much as it does the “raw and raunchy incarnation of Dee's former self”. He ends up filling the midnight to 3am slot with a collage of music, poetry, prose and philosophy but no call-ins and no requests.
One night he falls asleep and we are introduced, through video clips, to six apparently independent fans: Judy the lonely, single woman, Jésus the immigrant taxi driver, Regina and Raoul the young lovers and Carla, a mysterious, sensuous neighbour.
Later the Mephistopholian theatre and radio critic Eddy Ash appears to reveal his role in Dee's life.
Through the interweaving of their individual stories we eventually learn of their surprising interconnectedness. But whether these people are real or figments of Dee's imagination it's never quite clear. The final revelation, that Dee may not write the scripts his fans enjoy so much but may merely be the mouthpiece of the blind critic who never listens to the shows he reviews, leaves the audience with a question: How valid is Dee's exhortation to his listeners to break free of their bonds, to rise above their longings and liberate the creator in them?
Technically brilliant, the production incorporates a range of media that at times envelopes the audience in light and sound, so that the fourth wall between performance and audience dissolves and the audience is drawn into the dream world of fantastical light and sound. Some of the music is hauntingly beautiful and the images, many of which illuminate the entire theatre space, surreal.
Less engaging, however, is Jimmy Dee himself. It is somewhat ironic that I cared more about the stories of the fans, particularly the young lovers, than I did about the pretentious, self-absorbed Dee.
I came away intrigued, but strangely unmoved by the tale of “one man's quest for a sense of belonging and his journey towards rediscovering his forgotten dreams and self”.