Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep ★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Apr 27 - May 21, 2022


The title says it all. These are five monologues delivered by characters who are apparently suffering from insomnia. They are five very different people, but they all endure the same malady and in doing so they have time to recount their memories, regrets, fears and aspirations. Helen (Sally Knyvette) is a middle class woman who is self-contained and house proud; Bill (Vincenzo Nicoli) is a gentle chef with a romantic nature; Hugo (Gary Lilburn) is an Irish sculptor who as a child was abandoned by his father; Terry (Geraldine Alexander) is a woman who has lost a child and is now a caregiver for her own mother; Harvey (Andrew Hawkins) is a left-wing teacher who has been sacked from his job. All of the characters have interesting stories and all of the actors do absolutely first rate jobs at bringing them to life. Indeed, the quality of the acting is what makes this an exceptional production. However for us, the writing and construction of the work did not always rise to the high standard of the performances. It was distracting that the characters alternated between referring to themselves in the first and third person. While the intention may have been to reflect their dissociation from their own lives it doesn't really work. Similarly, the fact that neither dramatically nor thematically do the individual stories intersect makes for a play without a plot. Five Characters in Search of a Good Night's Sleep becomes simply an extended conceit with insomnia serving as a metaphor for life. However, despite such caveats, we'd recommend you treat yourself to a night in the theatre that showcases the best of the art of acting.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Bessell Photography.

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