In the intimate setting of Upstairs at Soho Theatre, we are anticipating what the next hour might hold for us.  What transpires is a stream of consciousness, vividly told by actor/writer Emily Woof, but with a storyline clearly threaded through.

Emily’s character, Dotty, finds herself in a bizarre situation, having to give a keynote lecture at a Swiss Conference on behalf of her Neuroscientist husband (also called Dotty!) as he has become ill – or as he prefers to say, ‘indisposed’. 

As the story progresses, or rather unravels, we learn that when the two met, husband Dotty took a scan of wife Dotty’s brain, revealing a condition called Neuronal Avalanche.  After years together, not only does the keynote address unravel as wife Dotty tries to deliver it her way to help people understand its complexities, but their relationship unravels too, leaving us wondering if their whole life together was based on a scientific discovery rather than love. 

We are taken on a surreal journey involving interruptive bursts of movement, which she tells us is the tension mounting.  We also witness the difference between her husband’s scientific, logical understanding of what is happening in Dotty’s brain, and her own lived experience – one lives on paper and in PowerPoint slides, the other in gritty reality. 

Woof definitely has a talent of vivid scene and character painting.  We know where she is and who she is throughout the short time in the theatre. This is aided along by a carefully constructed sound and visual scape, adding a depth to the story. 

In the hour, there is humour, there is pathos and a final unravelling as Dotty encounters a blizzard and then an avalanche in Switzerland while on a bus.  Clearly, this is a metaphor for the climax of what is going on in her own brain and experience, resulting in a moment of calm, ludic clarity for the character. What we experience most is a large dose of the surreal leaving us somewhat speechless at the end of the performance. 

I can certainly see the appeal of Woof’s productions at the Edinburgh Fringe and it fits well into this small art-house performance space.  If surrealist comedy is your thing, Blizzard won’t leave you feeling cold.   

This show was reviewed on the 9th May 2024 at Soho Theatre, London where it runs until the 25th May 2024.  Tickets available here: Blizzard - Soho Theatre

Review written by Ian Worsfold


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