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July 29, 2013 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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Review of Oneironaut by Long Cloud Youth Theatre

An oneironaut travels through dreams as an astronaut travels through space. As I walked into Oneironaut, this latest offering from Long Cloud Youth Theatre, my expectations were high. Choosing to attack the subject of dreams is an ambitious stretch, and had Long Cloud missed its objective, it all could have been a glaring, confusing mess. But director Stella Reid and her exceptional cast have actually pulled it off. Sometimes, Long Cloud relies more on pretty bells and whistles than content, but Oneironaut being an experience rather than a message fits perfectly into the Long-Cloud style. And not only is it appropriate—it is fucking cool.

In part, the cohesion of the whole experience comes from the brilliant score provided by local artists Seth Frightening and i.ryoko, and I highly recommend downloading their latest albums (name-your-price! Hooray!)

Visually, the show is marvellous. We begin in the foyer and the audience is slowly broken up and led through the divided, cavernous Whitireia performance space. Different rooms each contribute to a wider plot-web which weaves in overarching through-lines: a gun, a fish and a repeated line of dialogue. Because most of the show revolves around three interconnected dreams played out simultaneously, one can hear outside parts of the dream while watching the moment you’re in—which makes for a magical déjà-vu sensation. The players never properly identify themselves, just as figures in dreams seem to exist in a permanent state of detached familiarity without names or reasons for being.

Some audience members may be frustrated due to the fractured plot. Everything will be made a lot easier if you give in to the structureless dream logic and enjoy it as it comes—remember films like Requiem for a Dream or Fight Club, and the pure joy that comes from not quite knowing where you are. The brilliant thing about theatre, however, which film cannot provide, is that the audience can become directly involved, can interact with the characters and be bodily absorbed in the show. Oneironaut provides this extra-sensory element in spades. Go and see this show, because Oneironaut is unique and a reminder of what theatre can do.


Oneironaut by Long Cloud Youth Theatre, directed by Stella Reid. Until 31 July. Whitireia Theatre.

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