Psychological liminality in Anthony Neilson's 'The wonderful world of dissocia'

Cassidy, G (2013) 'Psychological liminality in Anthony Neilson's 'The wonderful world of dissocia'.' International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen, 6 (1). pp. 54-81. ISSN 2046-5602

8257.pdf - Published Version
CC BY 4.0.

Download (579kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Anthony Neilson is a Scottish dramatist of growing international significance, with plays, such as Realism (2006) and its companion piece The Wonderful World of Dissocia (2003: hereafter abridged to Dissocia), being performed by companies from the National Theatre of Scotland to the Sydney Theatre Company. When researching Dissocia it was unexpected to learn the relative paucity of current critical material on the play. There is some academic discourse, but significantly less than what could be reasonably anticipated, especially given the popularity and longevity of the production. The current criticism of Dissocia is invaluable, but of the scholarly writing that does occur, none actually engages with sustained close textual analysis of the play and its thematic concerns. This article will shift the discussion beyond the work already available and is concerned with demonstrating that Neilson’s work warrants more critical consideration as it has much to offer the field of drama, particularly in its scope to enhance dialogues on liminality; because, as David Edgar reports, ‘drama is about liminal zones’ (Edgar 2009, p.202). It should also be noted that part of the analysis of Dissocia will consist of original transcript evidence from an interview that was conducted between Neilson and myself in May 2012.

Item Type: Article

Full text available from URL above.

Keywords: Anthony Neilson; The Wonderful World of Dissocia; liminality; contemporary British theatre; intertextuality; fantasy
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2016 09:47
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:43
References: BROWN, J. R., 2001. Playing with Place. In: King, K. ed., 2001. Modern Dramatists: A Casebook of Major British, Irish and American Playwrights. New York and London: Routledge. BROWN, P. and IRWIN, M. eds., 2008. Literature and Place 1800-2000. Switzerland: Peter Lang. BULL, J., 2011. Anthony Neilson. In: Middeke, M.; Schnierer, P. P. and Sierz A. eds., 2011. The Methuen Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights. London: Methuen. BUSSEY, J. 2012. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. In: Novels for Students, vol. 13, no.2. CASSIDY, G. 2012. Interview with Anthony Neilson [transcript] 29 May. CODY, R. 1969. The Landscapes of the Mind: Pastoralism and Platonic Theory, Oxford: Clarendon. DeVOLL, M. W., 2004. Emerson and Dreams: Toward a Natural History of Intellect. In: The American Transcendental Quarterly, vol.18, no.2. EDGAR, D. 2009. How Plays Work. London: Nick Hern. ENGEBRETSON, A. 2011. Neither in nor out: The liminal spaces of Blood Meridian. In: Southwestern American Literature, vol. 36, nol. 3. ESSLIN, M. 2001. The Theatre of the Absurd. London: Vintage Books. FUCHS, E. 2002. Reading for landscape: The Case of American Drama. In: Chaudhuri, U. and Fuchs, E. eds., 2002. Land/Scape/Theater. Michigan: University of Michigan Press. GEROULD, D. 2002. Landscapes of the Unseen: Turn of the Century Symbolism from Paris to St. Petersburg. In: Chaudhuri, U. and Fuchs, E. eds., 2002. Land/Scape/Theater. Michigan: University of Michigan Press. HADFIELD, J. A. 1972. Drama in Dreams. In: Hodgson, J. ed., 1972. The Uses of Drama. London: Eyre Methuen Ltd. LANE, D. 2010. Contemporary British Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. LEHMANN, H.-T. 2006. Postdramatic Theatre. Munby, K. J. (trans.). London and New York: Routledge. LEWIS, C. S. 1951 (2005). Prince Caspian. London: Harper Collins. LEWIS, C. S. 1950 (2005). The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. London: Harper Collins. MACDOUGALL, C. 2004. Writing Scotland: How Scotland’s Writers Shaped the Nation. Edinburgh: Polygon. MILLARD, R. 2007. Through the Looking Glass; A Remarkable Production Takes us into the World of Mental Illness. In: The New Statesman, vol.136. MUIR, R. 1999. Approaches to Landscape. London and Basingstoke: Macmillan. NEILSON, A. 2007. The Wonderful World of Dissocia and Realism. London: Methuen. NICHOLSON, H. 2005. Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. NORRIS, C. 1982. Deconstruction: Theory and Practice. London: Methuen. REID, T. 2007. ”Deformities of the Frame”: The Theatre of Anthony Neilson. In: Contemporary Theatre Review, vol.17, no.4. REID, T. 2011. Post-Devolutionary Drama. In: Brown, I. ed., 2011. The Edinburgh Companion to Scottish Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. SCULLION, A. 2007. Devolution in Drama: Imagining the Possible. In: Schoene, B. ed., 2007. The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Scottish Literature. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. SIERZ, A. 1988. Rewriting the Nation: British Theatre Today. London: Methuen. STYAN, J. L. 1988. Modern Drama in Theory and Practice 2: Symbolism, Surrealism and the Absurd. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary Volume 1 A – M. 1993. Oxford: Clarendon Press. TURNER, V. 1990. Are there Universals of Performance in Myth and Ritual? In: Schechner, R. and Appel, W. eds., 1990. By means of performance: Intercultural studies of theatre and ritual. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)