Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre continues to sparkle with a collection of original productions that give home to a range of voices and identities during their 2022 summer season. Its most current offering shines a light on the aftermath of the 2019 Hong Kong protests.
In 2019, to dream in Hong Kong was a euphemism for protest. To dream was tough, challenging and threatening. Further, given that there may still be risks for those that have opposed the government changes, this production resonated with a certain edge. Hats off then to Papergang Theatre for creating an interactive, immersive theatre experience that combined a documentary feel with light-hearted moments of quirky fun, against that backdrop of fear and oppression.
The play opens with audience members milling in a lively sprawling market, yet a sinister element casts a shadow with the mingling masked traders. Creativity bursts out – inflating the mattress was inspired, it felt like a place of safety, of rest, perhaps a place to dream but as characters piled on, it also captured the feeling of being overcrowded, on land or as boat people bobbing on the water- and using it to hold back protesters or sweep them away was captivating.
Dreamers is a highly creative exploration about the loss of democratic freedom in Hong Kong. It demands much of its audience, placing us as voyeurs to the erosion of personal freedoms. It also asks us to get involved, to dream, to take up arms and light the way with our mobile phones and shine a light upon hope. Its use of social media to message the audience entertains and rallies us to a call for freedom. In all, Papergang’s inventive production captures our attention as the trauma and denial of protest is revisited. It is a disconcerting production that entertains whilst raising our awareness of the Hong Kongese diaspora with their traumas and the ongoing risks they bear.
Still their dreams remain fragile.
Editors Note: All performers and creatives remain anonymous for this performance due to the nature of the show.
Dreamers played at Omnibus Theatre until 11 June. Further information about the show and other works by Papergang Theatre can be found here.