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Across The Pond Theatre Company present

 

Bedtime Solos

 

By Jakob Holder

 

Directed by Samuel Miller

 

Old Red Lion Theatre

8 - 26 Sept 09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couzens

A review by Alexandra Carey for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Director Samuel Miller gives this brief summary of the story of Bedtime Solos in the programme: ‘A man and a woman make love three times. He climaxes, she doesn’t’. And this is a very accurate summary - certainly in terms of real action - but it does little to truly share the experience of this poetic, challenging and often grimly funny piece of theatre.

The twist comes with the fact that the man and woman never directly touch and the dialogue moves between their exterior conversations and their individual thoughts, revealing stories, histories, fantasies and a startling lack of genuine communication between the two, even in the midst of such passion. This unusual structure allows the play to become a mouthpiece for Holder’s somewhat obscure writing with all its striking wordplay and dense imagery, and there are moments of startling beauty that leap out of the gushing words. Miller, along with actors Heather Wilds and Scott Christie, has done a good job of unpicking these many interwoven and strange worlds and, for the most part, achieving clarity. There were questions I was left with - which is unsurprising given the sparse real information provided about the characters - and moments when I felt lost, but I found myself surrendering to the waves of words and feeling a real power.

However, it must be said that Christie’s man was a far more truthful character than his female counterpart and I’m inclined to think this is a bias in the writing. He had the lions share of the powerful imagery and comedy, along with far greater development and history. Wilds did evoke a powerful combination of strength and brokenness in her disturbing ‘prayer’ sequence and it is unfortunate that some of the most obscure images in the play seemed to prevent her from achieving this elsewhere. This discrepancy between the characters, along with the general shadowy-ness of the dialogue and the time spent in interior worlds, made it very difficult to see any genuine connection between the two. It built into an oppressive sense of isolation and a disturbing lack of truth, lack of reality. Even the characters themselves ask at one point - ‘whose thoughts are these? Who is making who up?’.

Bedtime Solos is simple on the outside, but a house of mirrors on the inside and its set and lighting reflected this perfectly; it is almost stiflingly the same and yet that strong current of words is buffeting away, always trying to pull you down into a dark, lurking place. It is a very unique play which I suspect will divide opinion - whatever you think, its power is unquestionable.

 

 

Old Red Lion Theatre
 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4

Times: Tues - Sat at 9.30pm, Sun at 7pm

Tickets: £10/8

Box Office: 020 7837 7816/ book online at

http://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

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