State of Fugue

Sat 25th February 2012


Florence Strickland

at 15:48 on 26th Feb 2012



Blimey; on the last night of the Festival, ‘State of Fugue’ threw humour, terror, and a very moving presentation of devotion through the character of Jonathan Wade, in a palimpsest of illusion and reality - at first unbeknownst to the audience. Originally led to believe we are watching a detective story, it is revealed that this is a psychiatric analysis of, not Jonathan Wade the detective, but Jonathan Wade the man, forced by a psychiatrist to recollect the true order of events which led to the death of his wife, Victoria. Wade presents these layers of memory through the majority of the play, which serves to be a visual narration of his own mind’s construction, his own state of fugue.

A fiction within fiction, Tom Dockar-Drysdale constructed a powerful and highly impressive play, reminiscent of Dennis Lehane’s ‘Shutter Island’, which left the audience reeling by the end. The set seemed rather makeshift with scraps of white and black fabric hanging behind and around the stage. But I thought this further demonstrated the sub-conscious construction of an individual, and the fragmentary nature of the play’s structure as a whole. The audience, like Jonathan as the detective of his own mind, had to piece together the information presented, equally discerning illusion from truth.

The acting was highly accomplished, and the characterisation very well developed. This was especially the case with those who had dual roles – presenting differentiations between figmentary caricatures and the people Wade encountered in reality. Sinister music was accompanied with a blacked out stage and, what I thought was, the absolutely terrifying disturbed ramblings of Victoria followed by her screams. Perhaps the shouting and screaming did get slightly grating after a while but, to be honest, I think this was probably the purpose of it. A seemingly deranged tramp provided much humour, but also a threatening first indication of Wade’s mental instability. It was this serving of comedy and tragedy simultaneously that provided much of the fear instilled in the audience. Of course, special note should go to the actor who played Jonathan Wade. He demonstrated the complications and layers of his character with versatility.

“The pain of living with the truth”, was the essence of the play. How one copes with this, as well as ones own identity within this truth served to move and shock. Of course, as Jonathan says himself, the simplest explanation is usually the right one – deeply traumatised, he created the complications himself.


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