JOHNNY PANIC AND THE BIBLE OF DREAMS
nytheatre.com review by Josephine Cashman
Johnny Panic and The Bible of Dreams, based on a story by Sylvia
Plath, is the darkly poignant and often funny tale of a young, nameless
secretary at a psychiatric clinic who obsessively chronicles the fears
of the patients she observes while at work. Johnny Panic is the name of
her god, and she works "…Not to record the dreamer, but the dreams." Her
work must remain secret, because she believes that the resident
psychiatrists, in treating the patients, are undermining her and
converting the patients away from the perceived worship of Johnny Panic.
Johnny lurks about on the fringes of the stage, dressed in black. He is
sly, subtle, and always there while the dreams and fears of the patients
are humorously and cleverly revealed, especially in one hilarious mock
August 15, 2002
From the start, there is an extremely fine line created between the dream world and reality as the audience sees these dreams through the eyes of the energetic secretary, well played by Kathryn Ekblad, as she covertly creates the Bible of Dreams. She is torn between the excitement of her discoveries and her fears of being discovered. The play is strictly and intricately staged by adapter and director Bridgette Dunlop, although at times a bit clumsily executed by an otherwise terrific ensemble. Some standouts are Elizabeth Neptune, Jason Director, Lauren Terilli, and Emily French.
With echoes of Equus, the play raises questions about the nature of mental illness, of "What is madness?" and "What is meaning?" It makes for a visually arresting and technically sound production, as we see the secretary’s passion becomes a descent into madness. This show does not disappoint. "Johnny Panic forgets not his own."