Dreamy for the most part, hazy in places
Jim Cartwright’s ‘Bed’ is a surreal exploration of life and dreams, set entirely in a bed. While it is full of energy and stuffed with some brilliant monologues, the show is inclined to confuse more than wow.
On entering the ADC, the audience is greeted with a vertically propped bed and seven actors lined up along it. From the pillows and linen, the actors deliver a series of monologues and expressive movements that chart the hopes, dreams and despairs of the bed bound. Above these sleepers hangs the sleepless sermon head (Shimal De Silvai), who torments and haunts the dreamers throughout the play.
For a play made up entirely of Freshers, the cast did very well in bringing to life what is evidently a tricky play to pull off. At times acting felt forced and shouty, but generally all the cast were competent. Harry Burke excelled as Charles, driving his co-bedders through nostalgic dreams of a dystopian English youth. Becky Shepherdson as Bosom Lady also stood out, along with a show stopping monologue from Maya Yousif playing Marjorie. The emotion expressed recounting the experiences of a her failed relationship and stillbirth clearly moved the audience.
Also worthy of a mention was the couple, played by Henry Phillips and Ellie Cole, who gave what could be quite a dark and harrowing production some light relief and playful humour. More generally, the set and lighting was excellent. The vertically bed which encased the cast, along with the dangling chairs swinging from the ceiling gave us a real sense of the surreal. The swift lighting changes also had a great effect, the projections of pillow feathers onto the stage catapulting the audience into the the river of dreams.
At times, however, the play was very difficult to follow- one monologue often rushing erratically into the next without any real time for the audience to appreciate what was going on. Despite its many achievements, the play never really achieved a recognisable shape, the ending seeming wholly unsatisfactory and confusing. It seems, though, that this was much more the result of the odd writing than it was direction.
Bed can be a bit of a haze, probably made all the more so at 11pm in Week 7. It’s worth seeing though. If nothing else than for the upcoming Fresher talent.