** Feels more like an exercise than an actual theatre piece
To paraphrase a classic Edinburgh review one-liner, "Lovers of Joseph Chaikin-devised pieces will love this Joseph Chaikin-devised piece."
I've now seen Chaikin's work with professional companies, with student ensembles, in premiere and in revival, and to be sure, he seems to give a lot of inspiration and to elicit a great deal of physical and imaginative inventiveness from actors. But... well... there never seems to be much point to the results. People throw shapes, go off on surreal or dark tangents, get briefly emotional, but it's the sort of collage where you look at the individual pieces but don't really connect with the overall picture.
As the title suggests, this is a musing on various kinds of sleep. One guy is in a coma, his sister sleeps beside him in the hospital, another corporation seems to be commodifying sleep, yet another woman is desperate to cure her insomnia. We get hospital scenes, boardroom scenes, intimate bed scenes, musical numbers... We get an hour and a bit of stuff, and then it stops. Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company are clearly talented, and nobody's asking them to be slaves to narrative or anything like that. It's just that this feels more like a showcase for their abilities than a piece directed towards any dramatic end.
Written for divento.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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