A fantastic piece of theatre by Anthony Neilson performed by the students at Winchester University.

The Wonderful World of Dissocia is about a girl called Lisa who goes in search of a “missing hour.” She is suffering from a mental illness and as such the people around her have grown distant and frustrated. The play was first performed in 2004 at Edinburgh but was recently revived at The Royal Court in London.

In the first act, Lisa descends into Dissocia in an attempt to recover her missing hour. She meets many characters who taunt, scare and even attempt to rape her. She is still, confusingly, intrigued by the place. We soon discover that Dissocia is under threat from the shadow of the Black Dog who finally turns out to be her boyfriend in the real world. They leave Dissocia together indicating her fall from innocence and signaling we are moving from fantasy to reality.

In the second act, Lisa is in a hospital. She is force fed pills and dismissed by her doctors who simply prescribe her more. She is distanced by her family and rejected by her boyfriend. It is a spine chilling amalgamation of how people are treated in our society.

This is possibly the best PAW production I’ve seen all year but I was quite disappointed considering the brilliance of Neilson’s play. Our production starred Christina Finn as Lisa and she sung and danced her way impressively through the first act but her characterisation didn’t quite work for me. She didn’t quite seem ‘mental’ enough, if at all, really. This really let down the second act where it was really all about her character, Lisa. Florian Klein, however, was simply faultless in all his roles and was a true standout star in this production.

The direction of the play was its biggest failing. Little things, like Lisa singing the Dissocia anthem even though she had only been there five minutes, really let the side down. A real shame concidering the exceptional acting talent on show. The most annoying element was the choice to change the seating arrangement at the interval. It went from a ‘On-the-level’ arrangement to the standard proscenium arch style. This was a bit too arty. I know they were trying to show the change from Dissocia to our real world but this could of been done much more easily. If anything it offended the audience’s intelligence, for we could have worked out the change ourselves. The addition of a twenty minute interval to change the seating also felt unnecessary as the second act itself was only twenty minutes long. The audience in fact remained seated following the show expecting more.

A great cast let down by poor direction: 3/5