Red Eye Theater's Dreamless Land: Surprisingly dream-like

Miriam Must 
Miriam Must 
Photo by Liz Josheff

The plot of Julia Jarcho's Dreamless Land remains almost within reach throughout the play. Just when you think you sort of "get it," the characters switch and the plot shifts from B-movie horror, to science fiction, to contemporary drama, to something else. In a way, that's kind of the point. You're not really supposed to follow a narrative, but rather sit back and just experience each moment as it's happening.

Mark Benzel and Susanna Stahlmann
Mark Benzel and Susanna Stahlmann
Photo by Liz Josheff

It's kind of like looking at an abstract painting. If you ask yourself, "What does it mean?" or "What is it about?" then you're asking the wrong question. Contrary to the title's suggestion, Dreamless Land unfolds very much like a dream, as with each scene you have to re-adjust your understanding of what the world is.

Once you give up on trying to make sense of it, you can appreciate the precision of the direction, design, and acting of the piece. The confusion doesn't come from lack of detail, but in the shifts of perspective and lack of a linear throughline.

Susanna Stahlmann, who plays Haley, is particularly mesmerizing in her performance. Is she a robot? An alien? A hit woman? It depends on the scene, but whenever she's the focus it's hard not to be utterly transfixed by her intense energy. Miriam Must and Bruce Abas are similarly mysterious in their roles, at once menacing and elusive. Mark Benzel as Morton/Martin generally acts as the central character who experiences the action rather than inciting it. 

Bruce Abas and Mark Benzel 
Bruce Abas and Mark Benzel 
Photo by Liz Josheff

Another intriguing element of this play is the super cool centerpiece, a large cube that illuminates a neon light. Set designer Liz Josheff, along with Gary Johnson, have created something that in many ways is a fifth character. It acts as a way to make this world even weirder than it would be without it. It's definitely got a science fiction aura to it, but also supports the dreamlike quality of the whole piece. It's supported by the unnerving sound design by Ross Orenstein with Steve Busa, and the eerie lighting is designed by Heidi Eckwall.

This isn't an emotional play, but it's not so much an intellectual one, either. It's not something you want to think about too much. Rather, to truly appreciate Dreamless Land, you just sit back and let the world overtake you. 


Dreamless Land
Through April 28
Performances are Friday, Saturday, and Monday this weekend; Thursday through Sunday next weekend.
8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sunday
Red Eye Theater
15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis
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Red Eye Theater

15 W. 14th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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