The Wonderful World of Dissocia

Written by Anthony Neilson
Performed by Young Everyman Playhouse (YEP)
Directed by Chris Tomlinson
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
4th November - 7th November 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Brian Roberts

First performed at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2004, this revival by the Young Everyman Playhouse troupe was astonishing to watch.

There are two distinct sections to the play - the title refers to dissociative disorder, the medical term used to describe people separated from reality as a result of mental illness - with the latter starkly different from the first, and much shorter in length.

The initial part is full of frenzied and carnival-like activities by all the cast.

Lisa (Niamh McCarthy) goes on a journey to Dissocia in search of one lost hour that has greatly affected her view on life. When she arrives there she meets a highly eccentric series of characters, as she seeks the hour she thinks she lost when the clocks altered during a flight to America.

The madcaps include representatives of the forces of depression, clinical depression imbalances, inhibition, laughter and argument.

Little wonder then that Lisa strongly feels that life is becoming more and more difficult to comprehend.

The second act opens with Lisa lying in a hospital bed, heavily sedated, and mentally very confused.

There is a constant repetition of doctors and nurses coming into her room to administer pills, which she vehemently protests they are too strong and are making her feel groggy.

This alludes to the power of the pharmaceutical industry in producing and supplying medicines of all kinds, some not even tested to any degree, and the adverse effects they can have on many people, and often also leads to addiction to prescribed drugs.

When it goes dark in her room you hear the sound of heavy footsteps on the ceiling, adding to the feeling of alienation she must be experiencing in her confined space.

She has no way of conveying her thoughts of her imaginary journey to Dissocia, its wonders and its horrors, to the medical staff or her family or boyfriend.

The alarming contrast with what took place before the close of the first part is a highly impressive piece of stage production that is both perceptive and provocative.

Without question this is the most impressive performance put on by YEP since they were formed in 2012.

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