Review by Matthew Hocter
The University of Adelaide’s Theatre Guild latest production, The Wonderful World of Dissocia at the Little Theatre, is director Thomas Filsells foray into the complexities around mental health issues and its impact on the sufferer as opposed to the usual perspective on how it affects all those around the sufferer.
Created by playwright Anthony Nielson, The Wonderful World of Dissocia takes a deep dive into a topic that has come to the forefront in recent years, mainly due to the consequences of the recent global lockdowns and their impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of so many. Rarely do we get an insight into the inward workings of someone with mental health issues, something that this play embodies whole heartedly.
Nadia Talotta plays the lead role of Lisa, who demonstrated an ease and unguarded and approach to her role, all things that must be incredibly challenging as an actor given the subject matter. Lisa is feeling misplaced in the world and her partner Vince (played by Paul Pacillo) is at a loss as to how he can help. On a flight bak from New York, Lisa learns that she has lost an hour and needs to find it somehow. Her journey takes her to the land of Dissocia, a Kingdom under attack from the Black Dog King. Their reigning Queen has fled, going into hiding. Where is the Queen and more importantly, who is she?
As the second act sets in, the world of Dissocia where voices are no longer visceral and have become real life characters, have forced Lisa and her crisis to confront just what Dissocia stands for – both metaphorically and literally. Whilst there are many comical moments scattered throughout the play, violence also plays it part on a number of occasions and at times was confronting.
The move in and out of reality for Lisa and the conversations with her partner Vince and other friends and family members are seamless and organic. Exploring the human psyche is no easy feat and requires an immense amount of care, conviction and compassion, all things that the cast manage with ease and clarity.
This is a play that many can relate to. For many of us, if not all at some time or another, we have felt deflated by what life gives us, broken even. Nielson’s play highlights the shades that exist when dealing with mental health and encourages the viewer to defy the stigma all too often associated with it. The Wonderful World of Dissocia provides a different point of view and one that needs to be heard and seen. A powerful point of view that is helping break down the barriers that are still so prevalent surrounding mental health in society today.