By Jonathan Smith
Saturday night saw a glamorous start to Culver City Public Theatre’s new season of three shows, with a red carpet premiere of “The Wonderful World of Dissocia” by British playwright Anthony Neilson and presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
The production, created by award-winning director Nicola Henry, who is also the company President, played to a sold-out audience at the FanaticSalon Theatre in Culver City.
Originally borne from an improvisation workshop by students at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, the play was re-written and produced for the Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, UK in 2004. The show won multiple CATS awards (Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland) in 2004 for Best New Play, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Design.
“Dissocia” is a challenging play that delves into the mind of a young woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder. “Lisa,” who is undergoing electric shock therapy, brings to life a multitude of crazy characters from a singing polar bear, to drug taking insecurity guards, to an abusive goat, Nicola Henry said.
“The script is complicated, fueling many a discussion about what each person and happenstance represents from Lisa’s life,” Henry said. “I wanted to stay as true to the script as possible to really bring to life the playwright’s vision, and communicate all of the subtleties, nuances, and at times, blatantly terrible things that this show brings to the fore.”
This is the first time the play has been presented on the West Coast and the first time Culver City Public Theatre has produced a play for an indoor venue. Lauren Bruniges, vice president of the company, and leading lady “Lisa” said, “We have traditionally been a company that produces theatre in Carlson Park, Culver City. This is not changing as we are still producing our summer show for children there. But we wanted to broaden our scope of work as well as our audience, allowing us to incorporate family-friendly shows with not-so-family-friendly shows, appealing to a completely different viewer and thus encouraging those who are not regular theatergoers to experience something new.”
It is a dramatic change from CCPT’s usual programming, with past shows such as last year’s “Pride and Prejudice”, and previously, “The Would-Be Gentleman,” and “Twelfth Night” being the usual fare.”
We understand that there are those people who will not connect with the writing, and this show is not for them, but we did not want to avoid this show out of fear of offending people.
“Dissocia” allows us to take on the challenge of presenting something that broadens thinking, forces people out of their comfort zone, and raises awareness of the effects of an abusive childhood,” Henry said.
Catch the show every Friday and Saturday in April at 7.30 p.m., FanaticSalon, 3815 Sawtelle Blvd.