Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Electric Dreams, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Billy Barrett.
Rose can’t remember the first 18 years of her life, having submitted to a series of psychiatric experiments into electroshock therapy.
Sebastian is plagued by memories he’d rather forget, of torture in Chile for his socialism following Pinochet’s coup. Collaborative storytellers Dumbshow turn their talents from childlike wonder to political rigour in this fascinating production inspired by the ideas of Naomi Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine.
Klein’s proposal – that right-wing economists have harnessed the social and psychological impact of disasters (whether natural, military, or financial) to force through neoliberal reforms including deregulation, privatisation and cuts to social spending – are imaginatively transposed to the stage here, and brought up to date for Austerity Britain by their framing as an unlikely love story told by librarians whose community workplace faces closure.
The company’s charm and humour doesn’t always cohere with the intellectually demanding and at times harrowing content, and the balance of dramatic pathos with socioeconomic theory can feel a little uneven. The storytelling frame is a deceptively cosy set-up for a left-field approach to staging the current political climate, as Dumbshow apologetically urges audiences to become “shock-resistant” and wake up to the machinations of the austerity regime.
Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
Edinburgh Festivals 2015: complete coverage
• Get everything on our Festivals homepage – on desktop, mobile or tablet
• Looking for reviews? Check out the latest Scotsman reviews – or browse all the reviews ranked by star rating
• Watch all the latest videos from the #WOWwagon
• Get distracted by our Festival Blog
• Follow our social accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – and join the conversation with #WOWfest