The Wonderful World of Dissocia

Aug 6 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✭   Heartbreaking escapism

The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241) 4 – 9 August 2014

It’s not every day that a show comes along that can profoundly affect you. The Wonderful World of Dissocia from the Grads is one such rare gem; it is charming, enchanting and poignant.


Laura Macleod (Lisa). Photo J Gordon Hughes

Laura Macleod (Lisa). Photo J Gordon Hughes

Written by Anthony Neilson and premiering at the EIF in 2004, Dissocia is the story about a young woman suffering from dissociative disorder: a condition that causes someone to experience a detachment from reality.

The play opens with Lisa, played by Laura Macleod, in search for her lost hour of time. She meets the charming and endearing Victor Hesse (Chris Pearson) who explains that she surrendered her hour at the beginning of British Summertime and failed to get it back at the end. In order to restore balance to her life she must travel to the Wonderful World of Dissocia to find it.

Dissocia is a magical place, a surreal, farcical and vivid world. It is a colourful explosion of Lisa’s imagination and here she meets the hilarious insecurity guards, a singing polar bear, and a guitar playing hot dog, to name a few. As she searches for her hour, she gets into a dizzying array of bizarre adventures.

Macleod plays a strong lead character – Lisa is positive, spirited and likeable – and the connection she establishes with the audience is spellbinding. The rest of the cast undertake multiple roles throughout Dissocia, with stand-out performances from Stuart Townley as the disheartened and devious goat and the incomprehensible Biffer, and Jenni Gill as the overbearing, crime-reducing council worker.

But Dissocia is a play of two contrasting halves. The world of the first half is the world through the looking glass and there comes a point when Lisa has to fight.

The second half is set in the hospital ward where she is receiving treatment. It’s a stark contrast to the vibrancy of her imagination; the bland set and quiet stillness accentuate a sense of grief and loss that is oppressive, inescapable and heart-breaking.

Confrontations with family members introduce the themes of stigma, blame, obligation and betrayal associated with mental illness and explore the strain that puts on relationships. The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group execute this poignantly, providing a startling insight into the nature of the illness. Lisa describes it as though hypnotised by beautiful and dangerous sirens; something worth getting smashed into the rocks for.

Under Ross Hope and Emma Carter’s direction, the Grads have created an exceptionally moving and spellbinding production that takes the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions. It is rare that a production cannot be faulted, but everything about this play works in perfect synchronicity, from the characterisation, to the set, to the lighting and sound effects.

A very clever production and one to remember long after the lights have faded.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes
The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE (Venue 241)
Mon 4 – Sat 9 August 2014
Daily: 20:45
Full ticket details:
Grads website:


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