You know when it’s your 8th birthday and you beg your parents to take you to Disney Land/Chucky Cheese/(insert animatronic hell-scape here), and you’re so excited to see the robotic band but when its finally time the robots start to sort of disturbingly glitch out, but you can’t leave because it’s your own party so you scream, cry, and endure the cold, dead gaze of the anthropomorphic monstrosity before you, suppressing the trauma for years to come? You don’t?... Well, you could always go and see Milk and Blood Theatre’s The Dip.
The Dip is a deeply hallucinogenic, somewhat nightmarish spectacle of surrealism, complete with a giant fish and some eggplant fascism. What we’re trying to say is, what was marketed as a late-night stoner comedy about a man dealing with his homosexual urges, quickly descended into something even Hunter S. Thompson might have deemed “...a little bit frightening, man.”
There’s an impressive level of technicality behind The Dip—there’s a psych-rock soundtrack performed by a live band, who also serve as the supporting cast. The lighting is immersive, and the songs are catchy. There’s some strong physical comedy too, leaving some of the cast dripping in sweat. The trouble is that, while The Dip was immensely atmospheric and dragged the audience along (and into) it’s trippy wake, the experience itself was pretty terrifying. Like, “Pink Elephants” terrifying. There were audience members who were audibly uncomfortable, and a great deal of nervous laughter. I myself was brought on as a “wedding guest,” where one actor stuck his finger into my nose and wiped it on my shirt. I’m a good sport at the best of times and I appreciate surreal comedy, so I didn’t take it too much to heart. Arguably, however, under the wrong context this sort of audience interaction might not be taken too well. It’s important to remember that while we all like to have fun, and get involved with shows when we can, having a performer dressed as a giant flatfish (whom is otherwise naked besides a strap of fabric) drag himself across you mid-show can cause some discomfort. Art, understandably, can be shocking, but try not to do anything that might have you slapped with a harassment charge. Some of the more sexual jokes catalysed an air of awkwardness too. Not an awkwardness at the sexual nature of the jokes, but rather an awkwardness of trying to discern exactly what it was we were supposed to laugh at, as the action of sex by itself felt a little dated as a punchline. Though that didn’t stop all the laughs from landing, they remained consistently relevant to the comic universe of the piece. I speak Spanish, and the wedding segment contained some amusing lines from Iulia Isar and the vocal prowess of the entire cast cannot be overstated enough—the score is one of the most impressive things about The Dip. Major points for Josh Tucker there.
The Dip is an immersive, nightmarish spiral into utter lunacy, accompanied by a somewhat obscured Alice in Wonderland narrative about homosexual awakening, some polished prop gags and excellent scoring. Milk and Blood have finished their run at the Edinburgh Fringe, and hopefully they can take the time to pare some of their audience interactions down to a slightly less intimate level or at least include a warning if they decide not to. However, we recommend that they keep in mind that with such disturbing characters on display, physical interaction becomes jarring for audience members that may not respond well to such contact due to trauma or some other impetus. That being said, we hope Milk and Blood continue to perfect their surreal brand of theatre for the 8 year old in all of us, that needs to face their anthropomorphic demons.