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The Man who Woke up Dead

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Waterside Arts, Sale

Square Peg's play, commissioned by Creative Industries, Trafford, has an intriguing title.

It's based on film noir with a hint of George Orwell. The definition of the former reads "A movie characterised by low-key lighting, a bleak, urban setting and corrupt, cynical characters."

The lighting is, indeed, low key, the setting bleak and neurological specialist, Doctor Atwell, is corrupt and sinister though, with more variation in pitch, Phil Minns' character could be even more so.

Set in the 1950s a cast of three - the man, the nurse and the doctor paint a dark picture of hidden pasts and the fine line between reality and delusion.

Evelyn Scott suffers the most and is treated more like a patient than a nurse.

Unfortunately, with the exception of Katie Robinson's terror-stricken portrayal of her, you feel little empathy with the characters. You don't even feel for Michael White's The Man, a soldier admitted after losing his memory.

Where is the venom when he thumps the doctor? Is he the man who woke up dead? There are many such imponderables which, I suspect, the audience will struggle to make sense of.

The stage is virtually empty and the cast mime well actions such as driving a car in a highly choreographed style.

The nightmarish atmosphere is partly thanks to Owen Rafferty's realistic sound design. After the opening piano music, he reproduces, among other sounds, broadcasts and a sinister knocking noise.

- Julia Taylor


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