REVIEW: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISSOCIA at the Royal Court Theatre

PUBLISHED: 12:25 12 April 2007 | UPDATED: 14:30 07 September 2010

Four star rating Anthony Neilson s darkly humorous exploration of mental illness exemplifies what theatre can do brilliantly, but so rarely pulls off - immersing the audience in alternative, internal worlds. The first half whisks Christine Entwhistle s b

Four star rating

Anthony Neilson's darkly humorous exploration of mental illness exemplifies what theatre can do brilliantly, but so rarely pulls off - immersing the audience in alternative, internal worlds.

The first half whisks Christine Entwhistle's bewildered Lisa Jones into the parallel universe of dissocia where she must recover a lost hour in her life to restore mental balance. It's an absurd, occasionally brutal, hilarious country (the national anthem: "Dissocia, Dissocia, we're so pleased to meet both of ya."), which designer Miriam Buether clads entirely in busily patterned carpet.

Lisa is quizzed by insecurity guards, assaulted by a scapegoat and taken on a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-style bombing raid on a flying bike by a platitude-spouting council officer who has previously agreed to be anally raped on her behalf. By the time she searches for her hour in the lost Lost Property Office, she is like Alice down the rabbit hole, arguing sensibly against the skewed logic of a surreal world that is memorably created by a fine ensemble cast.

Act II, although overlong, makes its point starkly in a series of short scenes punctured by blackouts. Lisa, drugged to the eyeballs in a clinical white room, loses many hours as staff, speaking in hushed, patronising tones, ladle pills down her throat. Her sister calls her selfish, her sad, frustrated boyfriend considers leaving her.

Lisa movingly tries to explain the destructive urge that lures her to abandon her medication, but it's hardly necessary. With reality this grim, why wouldn't she want to flee to the vibrant alternative world of dissocia with its beautiful sunsets where she has magical powers to conjure music?

Until April 21.

Bridget Galton

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