‘Lucid dreaming is the ability to become conscious or self-aware in your dreams. It is the ability to be able to realise that you’re dreaming; to have control of them and so do anything because none of the boundaries of reality apply’.

Before the car crash David was always quick to scoff at the ‘airy fairy’ ideals of his Emily; his girlfriend. But losing Emily completely destroys this confidence in his belief system, and he turns to Lucid dreaming as a means of escape.

What was interesting about ‘Nature’s pretenders’ was that although the play dealt with the philosophy of dreams, most of the acting took place in reality. Through David’s friends; writer and director Adam Wood offered a constant questioning of David’s sanity, and the reasoning behind lucid dreaming. According to Wikipedia lucid dreaming ‘has been researched scientifically and is well established’. Therefore the interesting question for me was ‘has David really discovered the revelation of lucid dreaming, or are his dreams simply a product of his mental breakdown?’

I really enjoyed the comedy scene, showing the dynamics of David’s friendship group before the car crash. The role of Tess played by Rose Eccleshare as the crazy girlfriend who introduces the idea of lucid dreaming particularly aided the comedy. As well as getting several laughs from the audience, the scene served to make the contrasting tensions between David and his friends later on all the more felt. In Adam Woods’s exploration of grief it was evident that every member of the group was affected differently. This switch of emotions was played well by the cast
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The use of props and images was also particularly well done. It was much more effective to combine images and voiceovers to illustrate the car crash; and the subsequent recurrence of this in David’s dreams, through a projector screen. This helped to maintain the division between the dreamlike quality of David’s experiences and the reality he faces as his friends question him. Due to this the single dream scene between Emily and David actually on the stage was much more climatic. Using a water basin onstage was clever. Wading through the water to greet one another actors Charlie Eccleshare and Jenni Herzburg added a natural sound effect to the atmospheric background music, which heightened the reality of David’s dream. It also meant that the street in David’s dream had materialised alongside the set designed living room. So that whilst David’s body could have been sleeping there on his sofa, what he experiences with his mind has become the greater reality.

At the start of the play David says “we are nature’s pretenders, we go to university, we get a job and we retire, what makes us think we have more to life than that?” Ironically Wood shows that when we have love we have ‘more than life’. On her death David discovers life is about Emily, and what he has is the choice to live in reality without her, or in a coma dreaming with her.

Anne Moore

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