ISU Theatre’s ‘This is Not a Pipe Dream’ takes risks with surreal storytelling

“This is Not a Pipe Dream” opened Friday, Sept. 28. It is a play about René Magritte, an artist who struggles accepting his passion to paint due to his fathers disapproval. 

Emily Urban

ISU Theatre is known to take innovative risks with their show choices and performances. Their latest play in Fisher Theater, “This is Not a Pipe Dream,” did not disappoint in that regard.

“This is Not a Pipe Dream” began the recount of the surrealist painter, René Magritte’s life with a somewhat confusing series of events.

Actors popped out on stage from unexpected places to chase a man around the stage. There was little talking, with sound effects provided by an on-stage sound board and the actors themselves.

The man they were chasing was the Interlocutor, otherwise regarded as the narrator. He finally lost the chorus actors in the chase and began the story with an interesting point: This play was not real life. You cannot get hurt in a play. The props are just props.

This odd beginning set the entire scene for the play. At times the audience would react to the show by laughing, clapping or scratching their heads. The actors would often break character to check their lines or remember the page number and plot. There were quick interjections of skits that didn’t make sense at first, only to reveal they depicted one of the painter’s works of art.

The story wove the tale of a boy, Magritte, who understood the world in paintings and abstractions, not with words. The audience watched the main character struggle with his fathers lack of understanding, the torment behind his silence and the loss of his mother. The audience saw him struggle in school and with understanding what to do about love.

The play was extremely engaging and creative. The physical comedy was a stand out aspect, with actors spitting water onto one another at one point. The on-stage sound system run by an actor added to the wacky, surrealist atmosphere and kept the audience laughing at the creative noises.

The show wove in a story that taught us all that in life, any dream is possible. The plot was abstract and confusing, but so is life, and that is the key message this play taught the audience.

One of the final points of the play was that nothing is impossible. If anything is possible, nothing is a pipe dream. For the man René Magritte, the world was a confusing place, but he followed his own path through the confusion to achieve his dream.

The next performances of “This is Not a Pipe Dream” are Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. A matinee performance takes place Sunday, Oct. 7 at 2 p.m.