Dysney Disfunction

Thu 2nd – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Jasmine Silk

at 10:05 on 24th Aug 2018

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Hack Theatre’s one woman show 'Dysney Disfunction' features a lot of interesting ideas but often fails to hit the right notes.

Michelle Sewell has written and stars in this monologue from a girl called Alice as she waits for the tube that will ultimately send her back from London to Australia. Over the course of an hour she speaks about her relationships, focusing on their context within her Disney-fied dreams of love, and her character’s past with all of its psychological implications.

It is an interesting position to begin in; waiting at a tube station for your boyfriend to rescue you from deportation by offering to marry you. Therefore, throughout the show she refers to her boyfriend as ‘Prince’, a quirk which does not escape psychological analysis in the tapes which occasionally interrupt her monologue.

She also wears a princess style dress, whilst addressing the love and sex issues that everyone goes through. It is a contrast which works with varied success; the mature adult and the ideals of a child. Everything she says is justified by her Disney-fied view of the world, and the tapes begin to discuss the psychology of this quirk.

Whilst the intended effect of these videos is clear – they provide an external opinion and exposition – they are often jarring. In occasional instances they work better, revealing the end by combining her speech and the tapes for example. However, they remove you from the feeling that somebody is telling you their very personal story, and ultimately this takes away from this aspect of the show.

The small space centred around Alice makes the monologue feel very intimate, and this is perfect as the piece delves deeper into her psyche. The issues she is discussing feel familiar in our culture; most people have to adjust their expectations of love and sex to reality. However, at times this theme feels too familiar; it is a topic that has had so much discussion that it has become predictable. This is a trap which this show sadly falls into at certain points.

The end attempts to rectify this, and changes the entire nature of the show with one vital piece of information. The new information makes the Disney connection a more interesting narrative to discuss the story through, however the show is over before this can be explored.

It’s certainly a show full of brilliant ideas and an impressive feat from Michelle Sewell to write and act in. However, it just didn’t hit home the way it should have, and I can’t help thinking it could be something ground-breaking but just isn’t yet.

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Alina Young

at 10:56 on 24th Aug 2018

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A young woman travels to a foreign land, finds her Prince Charming, he saves her and marries her, and she’s rewarded with indefinite leave to remain in the UK via a marriage visa. That’s the fairy tale, the promised love story, that Alice (Michelle Sewell) is waiting for merely minutes before she leaves back to Australia.

A one-woman show, ‘Dysney Disfunction’ delves into love, disappointment, identity and belonging. Somehow, however, it fails to be as profoundly moving as the concept suggests. The show is enjoyable but inconsequential. It seems a shame, as the themes are relevant to today’s questions surrounding Brexit and immigration. The creators were trying to capture these contemporary questions, but in practice the ‘immigrant’ narrative isn’t as moving as it could have been.

The piece is largely well-written, with some well-executed jokes and intriguing character developments. Our protagonist is sweet and gently charismatic, yet through her dialogue she addresses darker qualities: she is “high-risk”, she has a drinking problem, and 'rescuing' her is a less-than-romantic carrying her back from the club. Her prince feels she is closed off or difficult to love. While her imperfections make her more relatable, there is something missing. The multi-faceted character makes the show more interesting, but it’s not original or profound anymore to see a ‘real woman’ onstage. Michelle Sewell’s portrayal occasionally lacked punch or personality, and in such moments audience engagement dipped.

Alice is likeable and her situation inspires sympathy. Her discussion of what it’s like to fall in love as a young woman and wait for a happy ending are the strongest parts of the show. If the show was purely about this – a Disney story that doesn’t happen in real life – it may have been stronger, yet the ending in particular introduced new dark themes that weren’t properly addressed. With something as horrendous as child abuse, it seems insensitive to introduce it as a sudden plot twist. If it was approached more carefully, perhaps it would have been shocking in a way that was moving rather than out-of-place.

Despite some genuinely humorous and insightful discussions into life as a young woman, and the show's brave honesty, the tone of its execution doesn’t deliver what had the makings to be a great show.

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