A Dream Play, by August Strindberg, directed by Colin Hovde at The Catholic University of America, is an examination of the human condition initiated by a goddess named Agnes (Teresa Catherine) sent here by her Father (God) to report back why wailing is all the world sends up to Heaven. She’s instantly smitten by a Soldier (Grant Cloyd) who kisses her, and just as quickly forgets her. He’s in love with an actress named She (Amie Cazel), anyway, whose running off with her agent (Joe Weber) while the other Actress (Clair Miller) is left behind to become a Dresser (Natasha Gallop) as all failed actresses do.
The story weaves in out of a symbolic world as it questions the nature of humanity as it presents scenario after scenario of love, betrayal, torture and even suicide. Mother (Stephanie Tomiko) dies too young and widows Father (Robert Pike) leaving Lena the maid (Lauren Schene) to be the only one to defend her honor. Then Agnes falls in love with Lawyer (Kiernan McGowan) and it seems, at long last, there will be a happily ever after. But Act Two opens with them bickering like Archie and Edith Bunker. There’s also the Glazier (Seth Rosenke), a “ good “ boy, and Edith (Samantha Smedley), a beautiful ditz, to add to the drama of it all. And last, but certainly not least, the Poet (Kimberlee Wolfson) who comes in at the end to show the goddess she was human all along.
The entire cast did wonderful job keeping the audience’s attention. Robert Pike did a particularly captivating job when he doubled as the Sergeant, as did Stephanie Tomiko’s performance as Mother. Natasha Gallop’s Dresser was a delight and Keirnan McGowan’s Lawyer was very charming. Scenic Design was fittingly done in theatre-in-the-round by Lewis Folden. Gregg Martin masterfully composed the music to intertwined with the story as if it were part of the script. The lighting, too, by Dr. Thomas F. Donahue was exemplary. Gail Stewart Beach’s costumes all gave way to a double-take.
A Dream Play tackles some hard core questions. Why is there so much pain? Are we bad people? Is God really there and is he listening? The search for answers is like trying to decipher a dream. And so it is with this play, which I find to be masterful given it’s obscure subject matter. Things makes sense in an effervescent sort of way. And interpretation allows audience members to find in it what they need. Life is but a dream. Or at least trying to make sense of it all is.
Running Time: Two hours, with a 10-minute intermission.
A Dream Play plays through November 24th, 2013 at The Catholic University of America’s Hartke Theatre – 3801 Harewood Road, NE, in Washington, DC.For tickets, purchase them online.