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2018-10-27

Uneasy Dream and Other Things by Lori Leigh

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What a joy when Wellington theatre can make me feel like I'm in Melbourne, a sexy vibrant city of novelty and risk; young people who are smart and funny and have something to say.  I have no time or patience anymore for tradition, formality or familiarity.  I want to be surprised, delighted and truly moved, as the perverse, irrational and ridiculous human being that I am; and not just in my head, but in my body and in my soul.  I want to laugh without feeling condescended.  I want to think without having to bend myself around lifeless abstractions.  I want characters who are flesh creatures in front of me, obscene, beautiful, tender, angry, outrageous, loose, intelligent and sexy.  I want fantasy that deepens my reality.  I want to see something that could never happen, and I want that to bring me more fully into the reality of my life.  I want to leave the theatre burning with life, wanting to dance on the street, to dive off the wharf, wanting to fuck a stranger, to fall in love, wanting to live more fully, to perform myself, wanting to realise myself as I've always wanted to realise myself.

And this is the second time this has happened after seeing a play in Circa's smaller, more adventurous, performance space as part of the Women's Theatre Festival.  This time it was Uneasy Dreams and Other Things by Lori Leigh, a play about a woman who wakes up one day with a penis.  Does that make her a man?  Does that make her husband gay?  Will people accept her as she is?

We meet four characters with frailties and arrogances and needs and desires and shames and confusions and senses of humour.  Sam (Lydia Peckham) is a woman who struggles at work, with all the fake macho bullshit of working for a marketing company.  Her boss tells her to "grow a pair", if she hardens up she'll do better.  Her husband, Greg (Matthew Staijen-Leach) doesn't enjoy work either, but he does it cos he wants them to get their mortgage and have their family.  Greg's brother Fran (Arlo Gibson) is living with them too, but he doesn't work.  He's in a cover band and prefers to get up at 15.00.  Sam's best friend Reta (Johanna Cosgrove) spends more time at her house when Sam stops going to work.  She needs her friend.  Work's shit without her friend around to make it tolerable.

All these people need each other, something beautiful about this play.  I want to watch characters who need each other.  I need people too, what could be more human?  They may not even know what they need from each other.  Or maybe they know perfectly well.  Maybe this leads to disappointment.  Or maybe they're just too scared to tell us what they want.  But a good playwright draws us gently and tenderly into that space in a character and I was very happy to see it on stage this evening.

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