In Jim Cartwright’s surreal whirl through the rhythm of a single night, eight characters in an enormous bed share a combination of sleep, waking, memories, dreams, and nightmares.
Director Cecily Boys creates a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, enabling her ensemble cast to welcome us into their odd night-time existence, and all on stage work together with smooth precision to create an assured performance with many touching and comic moments.
The various actors (Bernadette Oxberry, Barbara Miller, Paul Baxter, Richard Easterbrook, Mandy Newby, Kathryn Whaley and Bill Laverick) each have their moment, revealing their character’s inner demons and secret dreams through poetry, song and visual imagery, and I felt that Richard Demoily (Sermon Head) interpreted his challenging role with particular subtlety and variety.
Highly suited to the intimate setting of the Studio, Matt Hall’s sound and Andy Pilliner’s lighting complement the action perfectly, while the set, dominated by the enormous bed, is suitably complex and intriguing.
An excellent interpretation of a demanding script, this production remains upbeat even in its saddest moments, suggesting that, on some undefined wavelength of our brains, we’re all connected during the dark hours of the night. If you’re in the mood for a little surrealism (‘Who does this vest belong to?’ ‘We’ll never know’), this is a bold presentation of an unusual, dream-like play, that intertwines the logical with the bizarre, leaving us refreshed, cleansed and a little wiser.
Bed runs at the York Theatre Royal Studio until 3 March.