REVIEW: Emilie Collyer’s DREAM HOME

Renovation nightmare comes true…

By Christine Young

What ‘sort of people’ are you? This is a question that dogs the central characters of Dream Home, a play about a suburban couple whose renovations become a manifestation of their fears and desires.

Dream Home

The play opens with protagonists Wendy and Brian front-of-stage explaining why they are ‘going up’: adding an upstairs retreat to their house, that is. Wendy is especially worried about what the neighbours think so they have been invited round for a BBQ. Have they become the kind of people who want a room with a view? And what’s that stench seeping through the crack in the wall?

So from the outset, Dream Home breaks down the imaginary fourth wall between players and audience. The characters represent the audience and connect with them while they struggle to bond with each other. They address the audience directly or with humourous asides throughout.

Playwright Emilie Collyer explores the Australian dream-nightmare with compassion and humour. The ordinariness ‘living the dream’ is set against the nightmarish bubbling of subconscious yearnings represented by the mysterious house extension.

At this intersection of reality and fantasy, the audience is challenged to suspend disbelief at the peculiar smells, sights and apparitions projected onto the wall.

There is a Shakespearean quality to the fantasy world reminiscent of Hamlet and Macbeth. The characters are haunted by the past, experiencing an internal struggle between who they are, who they want to be and how they want to live.

The performance is a culmination of an intelligent, carefully structured script brought to life by skilful direction from Luke Kerridge. Kerridge has a firm grasp on the scenes’ pace and transitions; and he understands who the characters are, where they have been and where they are going.

And the seven actors display a profound understanding of the characters they are playing. In particular, Emily Tomlins (Wendy) gives an intuitive performance imbued with empathy and wit. And Olivia Monticciolo stands out as Elise, a 20-something comedian who gate-crashes the BBQ and the play.

The current season of Dream Home presented by Darebin Arts Speakeasy is almost over so there’s not much time to catch this remarkable play which was shortlisted for two playwrights’ awards.

Venue: Northcote Town Hall, West Wing Studio 1, 189 High St, Northcote
Dates: Until June 3, 2015
Tickets: Adult $29, Concession $25 (Student, Health Care Card, Equity Members), Group 4 or more $25

Warning: Contains Strong Language, Partial Nudity, Simulated Sex, Not suitable for Children