A Dream Play

I feel I've been here before. I know I've been here before. Certain themes are emerging from a weekly playread, and one of them goes a little something like this: I imagine August Strindberg's A Dream Play blew minds when it premiered in 1901. A trippy hallucination of a dream state, it navigates a territory between music and theatre, eschewing narrative in favor of theme and tone. It is a disorienting read, as perspectives shift and stages are described which seem unbuildable. It is a mind poem, so throughly different than the naturalism he had built his career on with works like Miss Julie and The Father.

But it's not blowing my mind now. Could Wilson or Lepage have existed before Strindberg? Of course not ... but having seen them, Strindberg's first cracks in the naturalistic shell seem archaic and fumbling. Though there are moments of pure dream logic, too much gets filtered again through the logical mind and turned into on-the-nose symbolism that is heavy handed and unsubtle.

.... But I'd still love to have been in that 1901 Opening Night audience.


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