When mental illness is brought to the stage, it’s usually in the form of depression or anxiety. However, there’s a multitude of different diagnoses and for the person experiencing mental illness and the people around them it can be a very difficult and scary experience. With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year in England, it’s about time that a different illness was shown on the main stage – and this time, it’s Dissociative Identity Disorder.

© Marc Brenner

Lisa has lost an hour. And they’re determined to find that hour, as the world seems off balance without it. Lisa asks for help from a very strange man that appears to drink the urine of others, no I too didn’t understand the relevance or need for this fact, but there we go. Soon they are on a lift to The Wonderful World of Dissocia. Lisa is expertly portrayed by Leah Harvey, who showcases a range of emotions throughout their performance and stunning vocals too.

Anthony Neilson’s play was first performed in 2004 at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh to critical acclaim. It’s fair to say that the show’s two Acts are in stark contrast from one another. Personally, I loved Act One and the exploration of the *very weird* and wonderful world of Dissocia. But the act does feel slightly too long, and I could understand someone leaving at the interval unsure of what they’ve just witnessed. But that would be a HUGE mistake, as Act Two is where all the secrets are revealed and the deeper meaning behind the piece is exposed. Act Two is short and concise, perfectly conveying the point of the production.

Firstly, Grace Smart’s designs are sensational. The set pieces feel as though they fell straight out of a picture book, with a 2D-like appearance. The influence of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is clear in the set design and costumes. I cannot get over how unique and effective the set design is in Act One, Smart does an excellent job at transporting the audience to a wonderful new world.

© Marc Brenner

Lucía Sánchez Roldán’s lighting, Alexandra Faye Braithwaite’s sound and Smart’s designs work harmoniously to create atmosphere which heightens and elicits the desired emotional responses in the audience. This is a show that crawls under you skin and stays there long after the curtain’s fallen.

Neilson’s script is both humorous and relatable. There’s some very dark moments, but the production also contains some light-hearted fun moments too, creating a great balance.

This show portrays mental illness in a real and honest way. It can be hard for people on the outside to understand why someone would stop taking their medication when they know it keeps them at an equilibrium – but if unmedicated your world turns into Dissocia or Wonderland, it’s easy to understand that this could be preferable over the world we actually live in.

I don’t think you’ll find a show with two acts that are more distinctly different as this one. The Wonderful World of Dissocia has so much to say, and shouldn’t be taken at face value. With some tweaks in regards to pacing during the first Act, this show would be perfection. This is a show you cannot miss, and one that is so important right now!

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Wonderful World of DissociaTheatre Royal Stratford EastUntil 15th October

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE

Leave a Reply