Fisico Alba International Theatre Festival 2022
Physical theatre depiction of a being in a dream-like state, cleverly conveyed by three highly skilled actors, participating in Alba’s exceptional physical theatre fringe festival. Clowning, mime, acrobatics, comedy and storytelling fuse seamlessly.
More than 400 years ago, in Hamlet Shakespeare wrote “to sleep – perchance to dream”. Human beings have always been fascinated by the sensation, unleashing a myriad of emotions therein. Dreams give semi-conscious space to uncertainty, fears and neuroses, but also to aspiration, desire and love.
Dominating the stage of the beautiful Teatro Sociale ‘Giorgio Busca’ is a vertical bed, with bedside furniture. Three actors appear, seemingly about to drift away to sleep. Their movement conveys, with exquisite fluidity, their semi-conscious battle to yield to sleep. The transition appears to take place from consciousness to sleep, but the moment that this occurs is opaque, fittingly allegorical of the falling asleep moment ; however, we finally understand that the protagonists are dreaming. Accompanied by carefully selected musical backdrops, we are treated to a series of imagined vignettes, frequently storytelling, but including bedtime etiquette, shifts to the traditional limits of normal human body physics, taking on animal characteristics and even animal physicality. The three actors at times are dreaming alone, but also in pairs or a group. Are there now dreams within dreams ?
The fine line between dream and nightmare is explored and everyday human anxieties displayed. Am I attractive to the opposite sex ? Or even noticed ? What is my sexuality ? Am I popular ? What happens if I become incapacitated? How do I find downtime with modern technology constantly vying for attention ? When we dream, our carefully constructed shields are stripped away. We are exposed. This is adeptly alluded to by putting the actors into a spotlight. Perhaps with a nod to R.E.M., in fact.
The cast – Giorgio Cannata, Noemi Quatrocchi and Andrea Saitta, who deserves further credit for direction – present all of the above and more. Their collective skill in acrobatics, mime and clowning is fluid, frictionless. The storytelling sometimes contains external reference points : Cinderella, The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup and Chaplin. It is all rather charming.
Descartes’ cogito is long established as the litmus test of existence – “I think therefore I am”. But, intriguingly, if an interpretation of Shakespeare is that death is but a sleep, and dying is akin to falling asleep, does it raise the possibility that we may dream after death ? Rêver poses herein a profound philosophical, metaphysical and existential question, but skilfully, entertainingly, touchingly and at times comically. Highly recommended.