Dreams have always been rich fodder for artists because they’re not limited by such pesky factors as gravity or logic. They range from surreal to mundane, magical to melancholic, sexual to scary. But despite the rich potential of his subject matter, John-Michael MacDonald’s ‘The Nightmare Dreamer’ is, well, a bit of a nightmare.
Anyone who has woken up in a cold sweat from a horrible dream knows the stakes feel as high when sleeping as they do in real life. But the tension in ‘The Nightmare Dreamer’ is non-existent. Instead what we have is some half-baked philosophy and a structure empty of any of the surprise moments that fill dreams, instead plodding along in a pedestrian fashion.
Txema Pérez plays the eponymous dreamer – a person who has the ability to take your nightmares away from you. He visits several sufferers, sleeps next to them, enters into their dream and takes their place, releasing them from it for ever.
Inevitably all this takes its toll on him – ideas of self-sacrifice are touched upon albeit clumsily, with a pseudo-messianic undertone that feels hackneyed. While the physical staging of some of the nightmares is eye-catching, the characters are never fully realised and the performances are superficial at best.
By Honour Bayes