Dreamthinkspeak, Don’t Look Back

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

Dreamthinkspeak's latest work is set in and around Stanmer House, a gorgeous abandoned manor house. Our journey starts at Gardner Arts Centre, where we are shown into a small room. We glance up to see sunlight streaming in above. A dark figure silhouetted against the light throws flowers towards us – and with a jolt we realise that we are the dead. From there, our journey as ghosts takes us to the house, where we encounter many beautiful and disturbing sights and sounds – rooms full of burning candles, an abandoned feast, a bride glimpsed fleeing down a corridor or emerging beckoning from a dank vault, empty music stands, the elusive sound of a violin, a deserted nursery, images of a funeral boat journey projected onto sealed up doors, a doll’s house that re-creates scenes in miniature...

Don't Look Back is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice: he the greatest musician who ever lived (his lyre now a violin); she the lost bride he pursues into the underworld. I was also reminded of Du Maurier's Don't Look Now – partly the title but also the shared reference of coffins in boats, nostalgia for the trappings of death, and the poignant falsehood of memory.

Visually stunning, well-realised dramatically and perfect in its setting – it is hard to imagine it anywhere else, but it will be going to other sites, reworked accordingly. My only reservation – the undertaker guides were sometimes unsure whether they were in character or not. But this is a minor gripe, it is a wonderful piece; Romantic (with a capital R), enriching and honouring of both life and death.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 24