Electric Dreams

Dumbshow

Pleasance Dome

From 05 August 2015 to 30 August 2015

Rating: ****

Review by Keith Mckenna

The ominous arrival on stage of characters in masks opens the ambitious Dumbshow production of Electric Dreams.

These are librarians returning to the library that has been closed down in order to collect a box of papers which help tell the story of Rose (Pia de Keyser), the elderly woman at the centre of a mystery story.

Rose is determined to know why so many huge chunks of her memory are missing. This leads her back to the treatment she received many years before by a University doctor. His experiments in brutal psychiatric techniques, often on people with minor problems, included electric shock therapy and putting people into drug-induced comas, sometimes for months on end. These techniques helped to shape CIA interrogation practice.

She realises that it is this treatment that has caused her distressing dreams and memory loss. These discoveries in turn link her to Sebastian who had been tortured in Santiago stadium during the 1973 coup in Chile. Their relationship helps them come to terms with what happened and see its wider political implications.

Electric Dreams was inspired by the book The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. It argues that psychiatry was misused to shock people into new behaviour. In a similier way, Klein claims that  economic free marketers would deliberately use and even create crises to shock transform countries from Chile 1973 to more recent countries in the Middle East, making them more ready for capitalist exploitation.

The cast are very effective in maintaining dramatic tension throughout this powerful and interesting story.