Last Updated on September 24, 2021
Inna Dulerayn creates a psychedelic concoction of song, dance, animation, film and theatre in a spectacular venue.
To call Mythosphere at Stone Nest a “multimedia theatre production”, as it is described in the publicity, is to do this show a disservice. Mythosphere is a magical, surreal, and psychedelic experience, showcasing all the elements – bright colours, creepy sound effects, exquisite costumes, angelic singing – of the intoxicating magical realm it brings to life.
The setting for this show, Stone Nest on Shaftesbury Avenue, is a spectacle in itself. The show takes place inside an old Welsh chapel, with the performance occurring on two levels. The focus of the first half takes place mainly on the upper level – an enormous arch at which the audience looks upwards, as if to the heavens – although the entire space is used constantly, to full effect. Edyta Budnik plays a misfit child with secret magical powers that society is determined to disbelieve and destroy. Her recited diary entries are interspersed with operatic interludes performed by the rest of the cast (Scott Brooksbank, Sam Kipling, Angel Kwok, Elisa Mammoliti) dressed in enormous eye-catching costumes, resembling angels or “birdy-people” as the main character calls them. The characters are behind a transparent pane, onto which are projected visual effects – bright colours, falling snow, people dancing, floating orbs of light. It is like the opening scene of Mulholland Drive if it was set in a mythical, Russian universe. It feels like going to the aquarium on LSD.
It is not only a multi-sensory spectacle, however; it is an engrossing story too. Inna Dulerayn, who created, wrote, produced, and directed the show, weaves a touching and disturbing story of the tendency of modern society to destroy our imaginations. In the second half, we see the grandma, an 87-year-old woman who spends her days watching TV and being told by her counsellor that she is mentally ill and that she must sever her links to her comforting imaginary world, in favour of the grey and boring real one. We are transfixed as we listen to Grandma’s stream of consciousness, performed magnetically by Lucienne Deschamps. What might otherwise be quite innocuous thoughts become dark and creepy thanks to the constant live metallic percussion and Deschamps’ stilted delivery. Deschamps is hilarious throughout the second half.
Projected above Deschamps, who spends most of the second half in the lower level, are dreamlike films showing acted testimonies of people who have experienced other realms by taking psychedelics, or of the winners (or losers?) of the corporate machine, or of people who can no longer remember their dreams. At times I wondered whether this play was going to reveal itself as an advert for homeopathy and psychedelic experimentation, but perhaps watching Mythosphere was, rather, a demonstration that you don’t need drugs to have an all-sensory and mind-expanding experience.
Inna Dulerayn has clearly put her heart and soul into this work. The levels on which this two-and-a-half-hour show works, and the mythological references are so multitudinous that the vast majority of them were lost on me. Perhaps the show could be shorter. But the sheer extravagance of the production, the creativity of the direction, the fervour of the dancing, singing, and acting, and the spectacle of the venue, make for a truly wonderful and bizarre show, the likes of which you will not see in other London theatres. It is hard to describe – you will have to see for yourself.
Mythosphere at Stone Nest runs until 9th October. Tickets can be purchased here.