Recently I had the pleasure of seeing a preview ofDreamcatcher, the new play from Moira Townsend Williams and directed by Penelope Wildgoose. It’s Moira’s second play written for her innovative youth group Characters Stage Company, the first being Faceless, the anti-social media hit performance.
It tells the story of eight school friends who attend a school reunion. The reunion has all the makings of what you would dread from such an event – horror, feelings of complete inadequacy andhideous cringe-worthy types. A binding factor however, is the realisation that none of the friends at 28, have achieved their childhood dreams. Two of the friends, Ed, an eccentric geeky, pedantic scientist with a camera, who still lives with his mother, and Mel, the struggling waitress/student, make it their aim to help everyone realise their long lost dreams. The forces are against them, and what follows is a tale full of surprises and intrigue, propelling you to a place somewhere between reality and imagination.
Dreamcatcher draws you in from the start with a wonderful dance sequence from the cast in which they create an American-Indian style dreamcatcher. A cleverly reconstructed nightmare scene of the day’s events is captured perfectly which draws the viewer into the surreality.
It’s a story primarily of lost dreams and disillusion. In common with a lot of fantasy drama, it feels this is an allegorical account of the present day government suppressing the fantasies of the young through financial cuts and restrictions, and unrealistic educational guidelines. (Achieving A starsas young as age 5 is the norm in thissetting) Lightening up, as humour is a-plenty, we have the brilliantly drawn character of the headmaster and his two lady loves. The comedic timing of each is impeccable. Added to this is the very welcome appearance from the Clamerons, the Shakesperean fools of the piece.
Without giving too much away, it has a powerful ending that had this writer at least, questioning their own life’s decisions.
The set is simple, yet beautifully appropriate to the play, with an array of props, used with great imagination.
Musically, the cast’s terrific singing voices more than do justice to the very strong original material co-written by the writer and director and add depth to an already diverse performance.
All the actors are worth noting, but standouts include Fin Griffin, playing Ed, who at just 11 years old, has star written all over him, and similarly Olivia Walker, whose portrayal of the hopelessly infatuated Sharon is just hilarious. Ellen Hendry’s performance as Mel issensitive and mature and listen out for her beautiful solos .
Director Penelope Wildgoose has put together a great play with a strong cast, smooth scene changes and a clear focus. It’s hard to remember that these are children – the way in which they take direction is second to none.
Catch Dreamcatcher at The Arc Theatre, Trowbridge Monday 7th July and Tuesday 8th July and St Margaret’s Hall Bradford on Avon, Saturday 12th July 7pm.