Theatre review: The Wonderful World of Disoccia, by the Royal Russell Players

By - Friday 24th April, 2015

Rossella Scalia on an evening which took her on a journey of the mind

Image by the Royal Russell Players, used with permission.

“Your watch is not an hour slow, Lisa. You are.” – Anthony Neilson.

Lisa has lost her way in the world of Dissocia; a place built by her mind in which she finds herself moving freely. The performance begins in a semi-empty white room with a shut door on the background and a solitary blue chair on the front. The audience is immediately included within the room, as if an invisible fourth wall beyond the scene enclosed the space created by the three walls on the stage.

Careful attention to the spatial structure of theatre – as an effective medium for visual communication – is one of the show strengths as the metaphor of space helps explore and grasp what mind is able to imagine. The stage serves as a means of representation of Lisa’s mental space so that by comparing two different worlds the performance it is read as a totality. The wall is a regular feature on the scene but its function is never fixed nor expected, it continuously varies with the change of context in order to use it as a way to interpret events and define stories. If the idea of a wall is linked to the concept of space divider, then we are led to imagine our mind as something that contains but prevents any outputs; if the wall were instead an element that defines space with no need to circumscribe nor exclude it from other spaces, then we would compare our psyche to a game of segments, movable and interchangeable.

The heroine’s journey follow the rhythm of a random dance

Lisa’s journey through the bizarre world of Dissocia in the search of her lost hour is not only a discovery of unpredictable characters and paradoxical situations, it is also a constant movement through several polychromatic and joyful places that follows the rhythm of an apparently random dance, just like our thoughts wander along unknown directions escaping blind spaces and adamant concepts. The mind’s landscape pictured by Lisa is a city where she ultimately finds relief and a glimmer of life.

Almost at the end of the first act the story reaches its climax; an imaginary flight by the protagonist on a cold hospital stretcher driven by a drunkard pilot generates a hilarious moment of contrasting emotions. The scene represents a turning point; Lisa’s mind is now completely lost in imagination and a state of euphoria leads her to reach a peak over the clouds, a point beyond which she may decide to go down or continue on her way up. Such a dualism of choices is again visually supported by the use of the wall; places that were before willing to become always something different – fragments of wall open to the most changeable situations – now close themselves into a focal point, rigid and absolute, an optical cone that widens towards the audience and narrows the scene by cutting it into slices. This sort of dark tunnel with an entrance and exit not only follows the trip of Lisa to a crowded lost property office – thought as a small hot dog hut – but it is also a representation of her mental journey that is now demanding a firm answer.

The event gathered the community and met with a warm response

A short break and some refreshments make the audience more cheerful and curious to know the rest of the story. It is admirable the effort made by the Royal Russell Players to create a theatrical event that gathers the community and becomes an opportunity for interaction and cultural exchange. The public response has been warm and numerous.

The second act opens again with the scene of a white room with a stretcher on which Lisa sleeps, the same she had used to fly the skies of Dissocia. The heroine is back in the world of normality, she has now lost any interests in travelling and finding her missed hour, she is stuffed with drugs and tranquilizers; days pass by marked with a white light that turns on and off every time a new doctor shows up, a smile of circumstance is gifted, a sad visit is done and some cold words are spoken by a nurse. Lisa is locked up in a psychiatric clinic, she has turned her mind off and despite the efforts to return to her tailored world, reality closes her between the walls of a small room causing the final loss of that most sought equilibrium that for a moment she had thought to be reachable.

Rossella Scalia

Rossella Scalia

Rossella is a London-based architecture critic and researcher. Her interests focus mainly on architectural education, photography, cinema and communication. She has been studying the potential of forgotten spaces and unfinished buildings within the concept of participatory design. Rossella has been shortlisted for the Architects Journal Writing Prize in 2012.

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