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Sleep Lane (Bristol - Alma Tavern)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
What do you get if you cross a Greek Businessman, an ADHD suffering taxi driver and an actress? Steve Hennessy’s latest that opens Theatre West’s always reliable Autumn Season.

The premise for the season is simple. The writer’s take a grid reference from the Bristol A-Z and that is their stimulus to write a new one hour, one act play. Hennessy’s part of the city is based around Sleep Lane: for the uninitiated, when Yannis’ (Alan Coveney) behaviour gets out of hand and Helen (Violet Ryder) points out, “It’s a Balkans thing”, taxi driver Jason (Joe Shire) puts her right, “It’s bloody Whitchurch!”.

The evening starts off smooth enough: a cab, a quiet driver and a passenger reading. Things get interesting once driver Jason starts to open his mouth and an ADHD fuelled stream of consciousness makes the Greek Yannis uncomfortable at first and curious soon after. This curiosity leads to shots on the bonnet, a large amount of Euros changing hands and an encounter with an actress who may just be a whole lot more powerful than first imagined.

Hennessy draws interesting comparisons with the European Market Economy and also offers up questions of morality and what money can and cannot buy. The central character of Yannis is beautifully controlled by Alan Coveney. Taking on board the origins of philosophy through to the current economic turmoil and rolling it all up into a Greek Businessman, Coveney’s comfort through to despair is pitched perfectly. Strong support comes from Joe Shire’s likeable taxi driver and Violet Ryder’s animated actress playing the role of a lifetime.

The star of the evening is Hennessy’s script which deals with economic crisis, philosophical thought and mythology in one very easy to digest, entertaining and thoughtful hour.

Prior to Sleep Lane, Theatre West also offers up Racheal O’Shea’s The Commitment as an amuse-bouche to the main event. Holly (Kirsty Cox) has just left Simon (Danann McAleer) at the altar. Holly’s friend Nadine (Annette Chown) offers support and a few cheeky one liners to move the event on. Relationship crisis points of mysterious texts, infidelity and solidarity are neatly dealt with and offer a lively start to an engaging evening. A strong start to what promises to be a great season for Theatre West.


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