Edinburgh Fringe 2013
"Trumpets sound, lions roar, feathers flutter and sequins line the floor. Roll up, roll up to the circus of dreams. But at what point will consciousness intervene? … Chimaera Theatre invites you on an intimate adventure into the colourful, twisted universe of their vaudeville dream circus. Explore the spaces the mind inhabits when consciousness isn’t watching. Dreams collected from a workshop series inform the storytelling, with original music, movement, language and playful interaction."
Chmaera Theatre are Eleanor Westbrook, Jenny Novitzky and Natalia Biglou – three complentary yet different performers who come together in the basement performance space at the City Cafe to bring us Snooze, an hour of unpredictable cabaret-style, immersive theatre.
It’s all there from the start – audience interaction, immersion into an imagined space – a circus, bedded in a grotesque set of dream images, collected from their own workshop process.
As I enter the basement Cafe the audience sits with the performers who ask us to write down our dreams. We are given pen and paper. This is clearly a performance that sees no fourth wall, right from the very beginning.
Three young performers, then, and there is a stage but this is no traditional staging.
In places this feels like the raw material for something which needs developing further -workshopped, devised ideas on a creative journey not yet complete. It’s a performance full of change, of ideas realised through physical theatre, dialogue, monologue, comedy, music and soundscape.
There’s plenty of inventive energy and focus here. There’s an accordion too – what physical theatre piece these days is complete without that vital instrument ?
There are some very evocative moments here in a kind of physicalised dreamscape. The performers use the space well and gel well together. They create harshness and tenderness within moments of each other. They are full on throughout.
The dream circus – a place that evokes those energising yet often grotesque aspects of our dreaming, the often disturbing borderland between waking and snoozing, and snoozing and deep restful sleep. As soon as we get comfy as a passice audience, up we are got and led, promenade into another space. This is immersive theatre, not always comfortable because some of the interventions feel accidentally clumsy – a little more skilled tempo work is needed here.
The performers are able – physically and vocally, the style is direct but the diversity of the piece doesn’t create the synergy needed for this to shine. I’ve seen a lot of devised work at the Fringe and this piece lacks the threads it needs to create a satisfying whole. It’s on its way as a piece and I believe it will get better. The performers – all three – ooze potential and possiblity.
That said, there’s plenty to see and enjoy. There’s are some delightful moments where the fourth wall is banished and others where that wall shimmers uncomfortably, a little like in a lucid dream. An engaging physical piece on the Free Fringe that creates a bizarre circus and a narrative to go with it, Snooze offers something different from a traditional format play.
Prepare to watch , to be included and involved, to interact, to promenade and to be disturbed. Prepare to smile but also to be somewhat bemused. Recommended for the energy, the invention and the heartfull oomph of the trio of performers and their supporting musicians.