Saturday, 26 March 2022

REVIEW: Psychodrama at The Battersea Arts Centre

A night at the theatre is normally a time to switch off and enjoy. Rarely are you encouraged to be involved. However, whenever a show focus on the use of senses (in this case sound) it makes for an interesting and unknown premise. UK / Spanish experimental theatre group ‘Sleepwalk Collective’ have created just that, ‘Psychodrama’. A sound sensory 75-minute journey about imagination, and how the stories we hear in childhood shape our imaginings.

It’s effectively a television show we’re watching. The duo performing (Christopher Brett Bailey and Iara Solano Arana) sit behind tv screens and address us through our headphones as they encourage us to close our eyes and imagine the stories they tell which delve between fiction and reality.

In theory, it seems a clever idea but what seems to be the issue with the sensory side of the performance is the fact that the headphones aspect normally works better when you are either in total darkness or isolated and left completely alone to focus your senses. When you’re sat a few rows away from the actors it seems to ironically take away the connection, you’re so close to them yet so far away from what the Intention of the imagination is. It’s incredibly difficult imagining the described scenario whilst they’re walking around also acting parts out.

The duo each give everything that they physically can to the performance though. Bailey and Arana each have their moments of humour, but ultimately there are never really any standout moments within the show. The humour comes from the many moments of over the top ridiculousnesses as they describe graphic and at times vulgar descriptions around sexual and graphic themes. The over the top descriptions are comical and we quickly desensitise from the topics and never take them too seriously. Even the duo’s appearance is made to be over the top (costumes created by Paola De Diego are wigs by Katie Du’Mont) so we’re never really taking anything seriously from the start. 

It’s described to those watching as ‘a gooey, drippy dream of a show, a pop-cultural exorcism, a runaway train riding a burnt synapse through the centre of your skull.’ Take that however you choose to take it there’s no denying it has its laugh here and there throughout but all in all just feels like a tv show that would probably be changed about halfway through. 

Review by George Butler 

Rating: ★★
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