During a recent trip to San Francisco I had the opportunity to attend the play "A Woman Dreams in a Seafood Restaurant" at the Habitat Center with two other dreamworkers, Sally Shute and Donna Levreault.
A mood is set as the waitress sets the table. The customer enters, hurried, depressed and withdrawn. The waitress displays an overbearing presence and clearly patronizing attitude as she repeatedly serves food that is unedible and must be returned to the kitchen.
As the woman's frustration grows, each trip to the kitchen triggers a deeper drift into a dream-like torpor emphasized by effective lighting and sound effects.
The disgusting food, the shadow personalities of the woman and the the birth of darkness are portrayed by various dream characters. The first and most colorful is a lobster chef who forces the woman to eat a lobster which has been served in lieu of her rejected food. The second figure is a dark figure of a machine having all the disgusting qualities necessary to turn even the audience's stomach with its snorting and disgusting eating habits. This second figure joins the woman for dinner.
As the play moves along the disgust gathers momentum until a grey mythical god delivers the waitress to the scene out of swaddling clothes. Soon the waitres s gives birth to black bat-like figures which the machine promptly gobbles down with disgusting relish. And so it goes. After the dream ends and the bill is presented in which the woman must pay an exorbitant fee - she leaves in confusion.
Below the colorful persona and art lies a deep portrayal of hopelessness and disgust of life in isolation amidst the shadow of technology. There is no observable indication of any healing elements in the dream or of possible transformation except in the direction of darkness.
This mode of theater has some obvious potential in the use of effects and costumes to portray dream states. The particular play "A Woman Dreams in a Seafood Restaurant" leaves the viewer confused and with a sense of disjointed incompleteness, not unlike waking from a disgusting dream that requires a considerable amount of dreamwork. One is tempted to want to re-enter the dream and re-enact it.
Like the times in which we live there is a sense of hopelessness and the dream is left unfinished. In the midst of this theater in which we all play the dream worker's task is clear.