Dreams in White

20 Feb

Theatre is a result of sloppy thinking.

It’s the consequence of a lazy habit, endemic to our culture.

We take for granted the concepts of character, identity and personality.

As a child I had a black Labrador.  Drawing on all the vast imaginative resources for which children are famous, I called him Blacky.

Blacky was my dog.

But one day, to my horror, I discovered that a neighbour allowed Blacky inside her house and even kept a bowl for him. And called him Cuddles.

It was a betrayal I struggled with for years – right until the poor thing took his final trip to the vet.

And while I grieved Blacky, my neighbour grieved Cuddles.

But the true tragedy was that neither of us knew his real name.

Dreams in White by Duncan Graham is a superbly crafted play. The ensemble is brilliant. Director Tanya Goldberg’s production is eminently watchable.

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It tells the story of a man who lives a secret double life.

It’s an appealing myth.

I don’t mean these things don’t happen. Far from it. Walk into any police station and undoubtedly you could hear shocking tales of duplicity from some hard-as-nails-tough-talking senior detective (that’s if he’s got the time before he rushes off to his next ballet lesson.)

What I mean is that the possibility of a secret double life is the sort of thing we like to believe.

It makes our privileged predictable lives seem more exciting.

(I have a secret dual life. I write these responses to theatre, but at the same time  I’m also the artistic director of an ubercool indie company that produces – fearlessly and without funding –  edgy original life changing work. But some would say this is merely fantasy.)

Some would also say that the extremity of the double life presented in this thought provoking play makes the issue seem an aberration or a rarity.

But it should be no surprise we live double (or even triple or quadruple) lives. A little self reflection tells us we are complex. The tragedy is that it’s other people we reduce to mere personalities, identities, characters. Sloppy thinking.

And we shouldn’t forget the contrasting phenomena either. From the inside we know we are complex, but we usually expend an extraordinary amount of energy denying this.  Our lives often become unrelenting attempts to maintain a simple singular vision of ourselves. I am good. Or I am clever. The effort involved in this self creation is extraordinary. And totally misguided.

Veronica Kaye

Dreams in White

at Griffin until 23 March

http://www.griffintheatre.com.au/

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