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Edinburgh Fringe 2022


Nat Norland

Genre: One Person Show, Theatre

Venue: ZOO Southside


Low Down

An artist tries to become a building. A woman chases promotions to board a flight to Mars. An architect draws a portrait of his mother as a cathedral. Together, we build a city made of card and light and shadow. Dreamsick is an evocative collage of moments that lingers in the mind long after it finishes.


Nat Norland presses their body against the back wall of the theatre. They are trying to become part of the building, the projected captions inform us. They are not succeeding.

It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what Dreamsick is about – and indeed, I suspect to try and do so misses the point. The performance is a delicate mesh of ideas, in which each watcher will find their own meanings. It is a piece that evokes rather than explains.

That isn’t to say there aren’t stories here; we learn about AG Rizzoli, the Californian architect who drew portraits of his family and neighbours as elaborate buildings. There’s the story of Her, who moves to the West Coast to work for Elon Musk’s SpaceX programme because she longs to board a rocket to Mars. There are others woven in and between these, touching on topics from angels to utopias, to gender and dreams.

Norland is a beguiling performer, earnest and at times a little awkward. There is a great warmth to their delivery, particularly when they address the audience directly. They have employed a variety of storytelling techniques thoughout the play, including direct address, projected captions, and movement sequences. This variety adds to the collage-like structure of the piece, giving it tonal similarities for a volume of short stories – the work of Ray Bradbury in particular comes to mind – with sections standing alone and taking on additional meanings and resonances when considered in combination.

Some parts of the performance work better than others, and there are moments, particularly a couple of costume changes, which could be a little slicker. Very occasionally it lags a little, but in general the slow pace creates a meditative atmosphere which serves the overall tone of the piece very well.

This is a contemplative, haunting piece – and perhaps that is the best way to describe it’s affect on me. For me, this was a piece about the things that haunt us: unattainable desires, legacies, feeling broken, what it might feel like to be part of someone else’s dream. That’s just me though, I cannot speak for what others may find.