You can throw every interesting colour you want into the mixing pot but throw in too many any it’ll always come out brown. MTC’s Neon festival saw Dirty Pretty Theatre’s The Lonely Wolf (or an incomplete guide for the unadvanced soul) open on a gorgeous set, but while the design elements sang technical brilliance, the performance tried to do too much and ultimately fell flat.
Overall mine has been a confusing reaction to the show. There were so many brilliant elements: the marrying of dance and theatre, the smatterings of circus and the meta/self-aware narrator dotted throughout the piece. But every new and great element director Gary Abrahams and the ensemble had thrown into the mix made it feel like the audience were having to work harder and harder to actually see the point.
Everything on stage sang of a process where no idea was wrong and nothing was outright rejected. But what sang most true as we walked away from the theatre was that at some point that show desperately needed someone to say “no”, to strip something back, and no one was prepared to do it. This was all then married with a bizarrely aggressive criticism of modern day psychology that leads to Christopher Browns’s, essentially dull, Harry attacking the audience directly with the show’s message that psychology and therapy are for the weak and are holding us all back as a society.
As previously stated, the real triumph of the show was in the design. Jacob Battista’s set and Katie Sfetkidis lighting were beautifully done and kept everything engaged. Battista’s set transformed The Lawler as I had never seen it and Sfetkidis’s use of side lighting and work with Battista’s mirrors made for a beautifully surreal but believable environment.