‘Land without Dreams’ review

Theatre, Drama
3 out of 5 stars
Land without Dreams, Gate Theatre, 2019
Photograph: Cameron Slater Temi Wilkey

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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This well-meaning Danish show about how we should worry less and do more is a little grating until the end, when it becomes amazing

Denmark’s Fix&Foxy are here with the good news. ‘Land without Dreams’, making its UK premiere in translation at the Gate Theatre, is unapologetically a show about hope. It’s also about our collective love of catastrophe, scandal or tragedy, and how happy we are to say that things have never, ever been as terrible as they are now and the future is bleak and nothing is ever going to get better and everything is always going to get worse and…

Yeah. In terms of its message, it’s probably the play everyone could do with seeing right now, especially the ‘we’ve never had it so bad’ British. Because ‘Land without Dreams’ suggests that instead of moaning and prophesying Doomsday we should, you know, see ourselves as the future and try to make it better. Live a little, dream a little, act a little. That kind of thing.

Performer Temi Wilkey delivers this get-off-your-bums manifesto with palpable sincerity. The script itself is formatted almost entirely in the third person. So, for example, when the unnamed female character walks onto the stage, she delivers a monologue starting with, ‘A woman enters. She walks across the stage and stands near its centre.’

It’s a format that almost works, particularly in the moments where it requires the audience to participate in short imaginary exercises. But it’s also relatively tedious and, worse, predictable, especially when addressing fictional audience members.

But just when it’s getting a bit ‘well-meaning but not great’, there’s sludge. And mud. And slime. A bucket of gloopy clay like the slop London is built on, followed by a white non-Newtonian swamp monster. Nothing fills me with more hope for the human race and our future than seeing a clay-covered performer attempt to get inside a PVA-glue placenta in a visual recreation of birth and the primordial sludge. Bad thoughts can bog off. 

By: Rosemary Waugh

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