Review: Psychodrama, Battersea Arts Centre

Experimental theatre piped right into your ears, Sleepwalk Collective and Christopher Brett Bailey explore the world of the imagination in Psychodrama at Battersea Arts Centre

“Who doesn’t love a great story, told well”

When a production sells itself as “a gooey, drippy dream of a show, a pop-cultural exorcism, a runaway train riding a burnt synapse through the centre of your skull”, you know you’re not at the latest David Hare beigefest. And with Sleepwalk Collective and Christopher Brett Bailey collaborating here on Psychodrama, the results are certainly anything but beige.

As we don a pair of headphones and two magnificently bewigged (vertiginously tremendous work from Katie Du’Mont) performers walk onstage, Brett Bailey’s seductively smooth voice invites us to put our feet up. And in some ways, just kicking back and letting this riotous aural and visual adventure wash over you is all you need to do.  

For Psychodrama asks questions about the limits (or otherwise) of our imaginations, examining how they are shaped and even created by what we’re exposed to as kids. And since for so many of us that is cartoons, we’re unleashed on a wildly unpredictable ride through the likes of Scooby Doo, Roadrunner and Popeye refracted through a considerably-not-PG filter of highly amusingly stylised sex and violence.

But even that description is far too reductive. It captures nothing of the intimacy and ingenuity of performers Brett Bailey and iara Solano Arana, who conjure the infinite possibilities of the mind from behind their desk, but also suggest its limitations as they dazzle and disorientate in equal measure. It’s a potent combination, admittedly one whose spell began to wane for me just a little in the last 10 minutes, and one you should investigate for yourself. 

Running time: 75 minutes
Photos: @ladalianegra_
Psychodrama is booking at Battersea Arts Centre until 9th April, all tickets Pay What You Can

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