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Five Characters in Search of a Good Night's Sleep- play review


All while battling the demons of insomnia, Helen, Hugo, Harvey, Terry and Bill are trying to calm their minds as thoughts are racing. From love affairs, to career regrets, they each have their own stories to tell from their journeys through life.

Designed to reflect the large number of older people that suffer from sleep disturbance, Five Characters in Search of a Good Night's Sleep is a play divided and written by ViSiBLE Theatre and directed by Mike Alfreds that takes on the subject in an unusual manner, whereby each character speaks in turn with monologues to reveal a little more about their background. These remain in their own entity for the duration, with no contact or interaction with one another, possibly representing the isolation felt in the situation. With a few possible links between them, though no conclusion relating to this, it could be argued that drawing these together would have been more meaningful as it gives more of a purpose to each one.

With no overly revolutionary narratives, it is clear that it is a piece created to identify with and open conversation about the issues depicted. Struggling through the night, anecdotes are shared that give the impression that the cast are genuine when becoming their parts. Terry (Geraldine Alexander) has a particularly emotive one, being a retired teacher that seemingly has lost her baby girl, and is stuck caring for her elderly mother. Hugo (Gary Lilburn) is seen to be a conflicted alcoholic as he tries to figure out things with his wife, while Bill (Vincenzo Nicoli) is navigating a string of work misfortunes alongside his relationship breakdowns. Helen (Sally Knyvette) is preparing for a film screening at her house, which she is not looking forward to, and Harvey (Andrew Hawkins) is a politically motivated former teacher, trying to publish his latest book.

Only a collection of chairs scattered across the stage throughout, the cast begin by sitting in a line and introducing themselves, with the dialogue oddly flitting between first and third person. As the show progresses, their exhausted bodies move to various positions such as leaning around, or lying down, which although fitting with the theme, doesn't provide much excitement. It is therefore crucial to listen to their words as they transition fluidly between each other's self-discussion. Despite the cast being strong in performing their characters, and several elements of the script being written well, their simultaneous separate parts and lack of overall cohesion unfortunately turns the intriguing concept of the piece to appear slow and dragging at times.

Overall, Five Characters in Search of a Good Night's Sleep brings to light a topic that resonates with many, though perhaps hasn't been presented in a notably successful way.


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