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Ordinary Dreams

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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Marcus Markou's blandly titled new play covers the well-worn ground of a 30-something 'meltdown'. Miles (James Lance) has just had his first child with wife Penny (Imogen Slaughter), a recovering alcoholic. But as his run-of-the-mill parental fears soon turn to paranoia on a paranormal scale, he finds himself losing the one thing he initially set out to protect.

As he sinks further into a state of impotent fury and extreme hypochondria, Miles dreams of being a David Cameron-esque Prime Ministerial candidate, indicating that Markou and director Adam Barnard are trying to draw a comparison between Miles' malaise and contemporary politics. But quite where the parallel lies is never made clear, and before we have time to think about it Miles has woken up, smelled the coffee, and decided he wants to be a good dad again.

Meanwhile, Penny gets increasingly close to Miles' refreshingly down-to-earth uni mate Dan (Adrian Bower) over coffee at their AA meetings, while Dan's American girlfriend Layla (Sia Berkeley) buzzes around espousing the merits of dream-interpretation and massage as the routes to happiness. But none of these relationships ever ring true, and the parade of clichés grows rather tiresome.

On the bright side, there are several genuine laugh-out-loud moments - most courtesy of Lance - and Markou goes some way to successfully painting a portrait of the dithering and narcissistic attributes typically exhibited by the now grown-up children of the children of the baby-boomers (and I speak as one of them).

But despite the best efforts of the cast, as a play Ordinary Dreams simply doesn't hold water. There are too many scuffed analogies (the portrayal of sexed-up politicians feels badly dated), the dialogue lacks fizz and the structure grows deeply repetitive over its 90 minute running time. Altogether very ordinary indeed.

- Theo Bosanquet


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