‘Reverie’ is a pleasing reminder of what can be achieved in the face of adversity. Writer and Director Francis Simmons, along with the cast and crew have, in ‘Reverie’, produced a timely investigation into the human condition in the face of fear and not to mention a highly gripping piece of drama.
I made the mistake of listening to ‘Reverie’ late at night
‘Reverie’ is an audio play set in a distant and grim future. It follows the last surviving crew members on board a mysterious base, stranded deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Their technology is malfunctioning, the computer has begun talking to them and there is a mysterious and terrifying creature loose. A strange and not entirely human woman is threatening the fall of mankind as the two last survivors, Todd and Reagan, find themselves slipping ever nearer to insanity and ruin.
I made the mistake of listening to ‘Reverie’ late at night, and though it is at times humorous and sentimental, it is also a profoundly creepy experience. The work done by Sound Designer Caetano Capurro creates an incredibly immersive experience for the listener, with sound effects being used with sparing accuracy. Subtle manipulations, such as distinguishing the quality of voices over intercom and in person, submerge the listener into the world of an underwater base.
Simmons and Capurro have understood that the most terrifying things are those that are left to the imagination and have executed a production which accesses very personal fears.
Beyond this, however, ‘Reverie’ is able to do what only the best science fiction does, which is to use the intangible and supernatural to facilitate discussions about the palpably human. An outstanding performance of Reagan by Jack Titley builds upon the classic ‘tormented hero’ role which is at times reminiscent of protagonists such as Alien’s Ellen Ripley or Firefly’s Malcolm Reynolds. The character and performance are rooted in an ongoing internal conflict and tortured sense of morality which drive the play.
Todd (played by Sam Morris) too has an impressive range of nuances to his ongoing hysteria. The seemingly cold inhumanity of the ship’s Computer (played by Sophie Curtis) is counterbalanced by the guiding voice of Kennedy (a figment of Reagan’s imagination also played by Curtis), a performance which skilfully navigates implied sentience and humanity.
Eloise Dooley’s performance in other areas of the play is intensely believable
Arguably the most ambitious character is that of the Mermaid, who is the most explicitly supernatural force in the play. Simmons cleverly uses her as an external force through which the audience can evaluate the humans’ actions and inherent morality.
While the play benefits from the contrast the Mermaid provides, and the moments of directness in her monologues are striking, her character is the only aspect of the play that lacks subtlety. At times the exaggerated nature of the performance is distracting and is at odds with the script which discusses her supposed ambiguity. Saying this, Eloise Dooley’s performance in other areas of the play is intensely believable, and the Mermaid’s arresting descriptions of ecological ruin are integral to the play.
Indeed, what is lasting about ‘Reverie’ is its environmental theme. The morality of its characters is not an abstract discussion, rather a direct challenge to its audience. Most pertinent and moving is the sensation of guilt and inaction which floods the play. The world beyond Todd and Reagan is dying, there are sirens blaring and a mermaid shouting, power is running out and it is all paralyzingly overwhelming.
Like all good dystopia, ‘Reverie’ discusses a world just close enough for us to see its shadow looming. At times funny, moving and witty, Reverie is most importantly challenging, because it knows that we need to be a little scared.
All images courtesy of @reverie.nnt on instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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