TO Fringe Review: Hushabye

Toronto – It’s probably Inception’s fault that there seems to be an increase in creative works about dreams lately. I think there’s four or five at this year’s Fringe anyway, if you include Hypnogogic Logic. The nature of dreams is certainly fertile ground for ambitious, imaginative stories, and Inception was definitely that. Such a good movie.

Hushabye would like to be a story like that. It is ambitious and imaginative, but its big idea dwarves all the others, making the actual plot seem small and trite by comparison.

Staged with just a screen and an overhead projector on top of a filing cabinet, Hushabye has a very big idea indeed. Apparently there exists a Ministry of Dreams that not only delivers dreams to people as though they were letters (they’re even kept in envelopes), but it also employs people while they’re sleeping to work in delivery and sorting and such. One department exclusively deals with dreams that offer glimpses of the future, often warnings of some future. However, they have a backlog of dreams to sort through, so the head of the department, Adel (Darwin Lyons), employs JT (Ron Kelly) to help them, and also solicits volunteers to view other people’s dreams and see if they’re still relevant, which interests the insomniac Mary (Jennifer Fraser).

However, this isn’t actually the story Hushabye wants to tell. The plot is about Mary falling in love with JT, her bumbling, sweater vest-wearing calculus professor who moonlights for the Ministry. Mary is also haunted by something that happened when she was a child, so JT uses his job at the ministry to help Mary try to find someone from her past through the dream broadcasting system, but this runs afoul of Adel for some reason, who is really worried about her department and keeps making these weird dream public announcements, but then JT does something bad, which he was warned about in a dream, then a couple of dream selves get shot, but it’s ok ‘cause they’re not dead in real life, but then Adel’s got a secret too…

To say it’s convoluted would be an understatement. The “Ministry of Dreams” idea isn’t bad, but the magnitude of it dwarves the three-character plot, and makes you wonder if an hour long Fringe show is really the best vehicle for this. I applaud the show for its ambition, but unlike Inception, where the big ideas and the human stories were able to co-exist, it just can’t all fit on stage in a one hour time slot.

Hushabye plays at Venue 13. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre

Add a Comment