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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2005

Do-Theatre - 'Sleep...less...ness'

by Lea Marshall

August 25, 2005 -- Aurora Nova at St. Stephen's Church, Edinburgh, Scotland

Light falls through a window as water trickles down the panes, and two dancers in nightclothes lie curled, one on the floor and one on a bare bed frame. The amplified sound of dripping water echoes through the space at intervals, and video images of water and windows flicker dimly on the scrim. Thus opens Do Theatre’s compelling and hypnotic new work, "Sleep…less…ness", directed by Evgeny Kozlov and brilliantly performed by Kozlov, Alexander Bondarev, Julia Tokareva, Antje Schur, and Irina Kozlova.

As the work progresses, the performers take us on a journey into the strange hours when sleep flits in and out of the room like a bat, sounds alternately soothe and irritate, and pillows and even the bed shape-shift. Two women are disturbed by two men in winter coats and hats; two duets begin, with the sleepers struggling to sleep, and the men looming over them, teasing, manipulating, insinuating themselves almost beneath the sleepers’ very eyelids. Moments of comedy, tenderness, and certainly eeriness are accompanied by the sounds of water, of slow piano, punctuated by alarm bells, voices, and intermittent distorted noise.

This company moves with an assurance born from long and intense hours working together through variations on the theme of sleeplessness. They move in and out of the floor soundlessly, and dance with such accomplished poise and presence that every movement, whether squirming on the floor, dangling from the bed frame, throwing oranges at each other or leaping into the air, appears utterly natural and without guile.

Watching these dancers wrestle with their pillows, with each other, cling to the bed as it turns on its side, intersperse moments of frenzy with that inexorable, desperate drowsiness, you too become drowsy, want to steal a pillow, and cannot stop imagining yourself in bed, effortlessly conjuring the rest that ceaselessly eludes the five people before you. A more thorough, deeply felt exploration of the theme of insomnia could not be imagined. See it if you can. I’ve seen it twice, and really must go to bed now.


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