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Corn Exchange - Starlight - The Dream Catchers

19th February 2004.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Lost the plot

Starlight - The Dream Catchers, at The Corn Exchange, on Thursday, February 19

I found this production, billed as 'A reassuring story about friendship and the power of dreams...', very confusing.

There were so many questions which didn't get answered. Three actors worked really hard to tell the story of Lara (Elise Davison) who was, unwillingly, moving house with her dad (Mark Bodicoat, who also played an endearing dragon).

The children in the audience loved it when Lara imitated her dad with cheeky exaggeration, but they didn't get excited about much of it. I wanted to know what had happened to her mum, and why, if dreams and wishes are so powerful, she never wished for her mum to come back. (Of course, her mum wasn't going to come back, there was only one actress. But we all wish for things which can't happen.)

As for Lara's age, towards the end we learnt she must be at least 10, having lived in the house 1994-2004, but she often seemed to be much younger.

Her dad was very jolly, with time to play Star Wars in between nagging her to get organised, but he didn't want her to keep most of her old toys, and the memories they represented.

I thought I must have lost the plot when the Dream Catcher (Rohit Gokani) started appearing saying: "Be careful what you wish for", but it was a way of transporting Lara into a dream world, in pursuit of a feather which would help her to get her dreams back. Then I was quite sure I'd lost it, and I really didn't understand much of where they went or why.

The children I spoke to afterwards said they'd liked it, though they didn't remember anything particular apart from one little girl who liked "the man with the feathers", but their mums said that the children had been scared at some points, and bored at others.

I felt in the end that the writer, Dianne Hancock, had simply tried to get too many disconnected ideas into one story, and as director she lacked the objectivity to prune the script.

Actors and audience alike deserved rather more.