For once a Schnitzler adaptation that isn't La Ronde, Anna Ledwich adapts and directs the novella Dream Story - most famously turned into Eyes Wide Shut - at the Gate. Viennese doctor Fridolin and his wife Albertine arrive home after a party and end up confessing that both have fantasised about affairs with other people. Interrupted when he has to make a house call, this revelation sends Fridolin (Luke Neal) on an all-night journey into his own sexual fantasies, confronted by a number of sinister characters (all other parts played by Jon Foster, Leah Muller and Rebecca Scroggs.) This dream is a Freudian nightmare (the programme includes a letter from Freud to Schnitzler, admitting he never wanted to meet him because he was slightly worried they might actually be the same person.)
One thing Dream Story can't be accused of is false advertising, as a very convincing depiction of a dream world plays out on stage through the performances, Matt Haskins' lighting and Adrienne Quartly's sound. What helps create the disorienting effect is a ponderous pace that makes the action seem to be running through treacle. It's very effective but the problem is, except for some very brief flashes of violence, this slow pace doesn't vary for the whole 100 minutes, meaning that although initially the production is hypnotic, it becomes a slog as it goes on. The cast are good, especially Scroggs as a variety of young women sent to tempt Fridolin, and Helen Goddard's set is a star of the show in itself, using the Gate's unusually deep stage for a theatre of its size to impressive effect. But this humourless piece ultimately failed to engage me in it's characters' crises.
Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler, adapted by Anna Ledwich, is booking until the 16th of July at the Gate Theatre.