It is worth remembering that Sheep Also Dream is a work in progress. The two-man surrealist piece by real-life brothers, The Davis Brothers – Tom and Ben – is a little rough around the edges, but there is promise.
The premise – two brothers going camping on Dartmoor after a mysterious three-year hiatus – is more than fitting for the theme of “adventurous new performance” that Camden People’s Theatre Sprint Festival 2018 demands.
The opening song – yes that’s not a typo – is a little off-key, but sets the scene well. The elder brother sees nature as his home; the younger is the reluctant tag-along. Or so it seems. What Sheep Also Dream does well is to gradually mingle light-hearted and often mundane humour with the surreal, morbid undercurrents that come to determine the ending.
One of the best, and funniest, scenes is when the brothers take hallucinogenic mushrooms, and to the sound of Pink Floyd’s ‘Breathe’, the younger brother has his first trip. The revelation of his smooth hips is one of the highlights of the whole piece.
The brothers are a comfortable double-act. Yet, at points the dialogue seems to feel forced, and reminds you that one of the downsides of having a script that focuses too much on ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ is a separation from the audience. The context is necessary, but it could do with a little refinement in order to avoid cliché potholes.
The set – a tent and a just few props – is subtle but effective, and the tent seems to act as a visual reminder of the Pandora’s Box of memory that the brothers gradually open up to you.
That said, even though this play does capture the surreal to an extent, you see the end coming. It’s not the intended shock that you imagine the brothers are hoping for, and perhaps a few tweaks of the script could help to restore a little to the imagination.
This is a good springboard for the brothers’ first London show, and one of the first performances of Sheep Also Dream, before they head to Edinburgh Festival this summer. It’s compelling, and although at points predictable, The Davis Brothers showcase enough commitment and talent in just over an hour to make you excited about their future.
Sheep Also Dream played at the Camden People’s Theatre on 14 March
Photo: The Davis Brothers