Dazzling focuses on the internal turmoil and external conflicts that Alix goes through in her "mind-numbingly boring" day job, living with her best friend and "platonic soulmate" Jan, and meeting Fiona. Alix begins to push to find herself both in her professional and personal life, regardless of who is affected by this. Emerging as a passionate lover and talented poet, Alix will soon realise that even freedom needs sacrifice.
A particularly strong storyline is Alix's friendship with Jan, which is an undertone throughout, yet becomes the lifeline for both Alix and the show. The show and Alex Addinall (who plays Alix) do an incredible job of portraying how easily passion can turn into love, and then mania and finally unhealthy obsession. Using a parallelism in both her poetry and Fiona, Alix's downward spiral is a strong cautionary tale, with an artistic touch. Addinall does an incredible job as Alix and proceeds to denote a lifetime of emotions in 60 minutes, bringing Alix to life in an enthusiastic and emotionally driven performance.
Whilst the core story narrative and plot is strong and clear, the execution of this is a little confusing. Addinall gives it her all, but there are times when the script expects audience members to know where the scene is taking place, contextualising the location a little late. The story jumps back and forth frequently, intercepting particular scenes with full-fledged dramatic internal monologues that often divert from the main plot thread. During a conversation with her mother, Alix descends into a long (and well written) poem and instantly back to the conversation, which did confuse me for a while.
The set design is an explosion of creativity and becomes a metaphor for Alix. With a large white backdrop with sketches, lines of poetry, mantras, curse words, crossed out lines amongst other things, it stands as a representation of the inside of Alix's mind. Written in red and black, it also matches Alix's clothes. A mattress, with piles of clothes, a worn sofa, rubbish and bottles strewn about and a mirror with inspirational quotes stuck on post-it notes, the set feels lived in and perfectly captures the essence of the show.
The lighting design helps to both trap and free Alix, expanding and brightening when needed. The ending is a particularly strong creative decision and works well. The sound design however often drowns Alix out, causing chunks of dialogue to slip away unheard. Employing a particularly unsettling and uncomfortable sound effect for the more depressing moments takes away from the performance.
The spoken word segments are particularly strong, creating beautiful visual imagery and providing a poetic insight into just how intensely Alix feels. By painting some of the poems lines onto the backdrop and having Alix read it, it etches these words into the minds of audience.
Dazzling is a vulnerable and powerful play about the dangers of love and obsession. Dazzling is currently playing at the Riverside Studios as part of the Bitesized Festival until the 4th of February. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review