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Bobby (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Venue: The Lowry
Where: Salford

Bobby (Nobody wakes up in Dreamland) by Just Add Water Theatre Company tells the story of a young man from boyhood to death, through a combination of the processes inside his body and the events outside his body. While this is an interesting approach to showing how disassociated from society mental health issues can make people feel, it never really works to engage the emotions.

Bobby is a young boy, ignored by his mother and grandmother, bullied by his older brother and abused by his father. Only his grandfather talks to him gently but he is in a home with severe Altzeimer's. When his grandfather dies, the downward spiral of Bobby's life speeds up, and he ends up homeless, alcoholic and abusive. He ends up in a mental health prison but the spiral down continues.

The idea of using parts of the mind to show what Bobby goes through is an interesting concept. The increasing control of fear and self doubt accurate. But despite some considered explorations, the conscious never comes across as anything more than a biological function.

The four performers Ben Moores, Tom Barry, Niven Ganner and Jennifer Campbell work hard to create all the characters from the conscious mind. Using physical theatre and puppetry to show Bobby and his thoughts should add emphasis, but a rather creepy faceless puppet and the changes into a movement section mean that it feels disjointed. Ironically the parts that work best are when the narrative is carried forward by a sequence of written pages.

Director Felicity Goodman has worked hard to make something of Ben Moores' script but I found myself leaving the show feeling ambivalent about the whole thing. Inspire love or hate, but mediocre is never going to succeed.

- Helen Jones


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