Dicky Dicky: Dream Factory, What’s it building?

The thing that everyone talks about in this show is the fact that the performers put literal pillow cases over the heads of the entire audience, after making them sign a waiver saying that they are participating voluntarily in the show, and are ineligible for a refund. I think the artists might consider that a spoiler, because they ask everyone not to reveal anything that happens during the show. I am choosing to (partly, and in good faith) ignore that wish because I feel the show’s preview night and advertising made the “coercive” nature of this experience clear, if not the complete specifics of what would happen once the show began. (Let’s move past the refund discussion entirely, because you already weren’t getting one; it’s festival policy).

dicky_dicky_dream_factory

So, let’s talk about this moment. I am writing this from a privileged position as a white man who has never been held captive in any way, nor been bound against my will. This means that there are many people who might find this experience vastly different from how I experienced it. I would hazard a guess that performers Dave Brown and Ray Besharah created this part of the show from a similar perspective of naivete, and for them, their assurances that they would take very good care of the audience members and not actually hurt them, were enough to feel like this was a good idea.

I saw the stacks of children’s play handcuffs, and experienced a curse-word filled version of a game I played with leadership trainees at summer camp. Someone else might have been reliving a very different and more traumatic life experience. This moment, it seems to me, was designed to give the audience a shared sense of accomplishment. By going through the “danger” of the pillowcase tunnel, the members of the audience create a safe space between them that is much more fertile ground for the vulnerability of sharing their dreams. This is true, but it isn’t the most dangerous thing the performers could have done. It doesn’t get at the thing they really want to say.

I can honestly say that the pillowcase tunnel is not the most memorable part of this show by a long shot. The thing that I take away from the show is the overwhelming sense of joy that audience members (and performers) had from being able to connect with one another, share their fears and dreams, and feel supported by the performers and their co-audience members. The show was charming, earnest, and important, and performers Brown and Besharah are massively funny.

I wish they believed a little bit more, or were less afraid of admitting the importance of the work of building human connection, and making dreams come true; enough that they didn’t have to hide the vulnerability of having dreams behind a manufactured sense of humour, drama, and danger. Because the shared experience of the tongue-in-cheek harrowing pillowcase tunnel is nothing compared with the shared experience of genuine vulnerability and love developed through the rest of the show. It doesn’t work as a bit because it’s explicitly pretending to be something, rather than doing what happens in the rest of the show, which is actually addressing something true from a place of honesty.

Dicky Dicky Dream Factory is unique, nothing at all like an assembly line. This show can go anywhere and, as long as humans have trouble connecting with one another and their dreams, it has important work to do. It’s by far the most honest work I’ve seen from this powerful comic duo, and for the most part, the laughter gave me a deeper understanding of my human self.

Created and performed by Dave Benedict Brown and Ray Besharah
with assistance from Kevin Orr
Produced by Dicky Dicky & Theatre 4.669

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