Wed 16th – Sat 19th November 2016


Clare Cavenagh

at 15:56 on 17th Nov 2016



I dragged myself out of my own warm bed to trek to the ADC to watch the play Bed. Because of this, I wasn't in exactly the right mindset to be an ideal audience member. But I absolutely loved it. Bed is a surreal, playful dreamscape of an experience which made the audience laugh at some points, and sink into subdued silence at others. Wonderfully executed by a clever production team and a great cast, Bed might be the weirdest thing you see all term. But as well as that, it might just be the best.

The late-night, sleepy audience arrived to find the curtains of the ADC Theatre already open, and the cast members already in the titular Bed. The set, although displaying the minimalism required for a late show, was highly effective and striking. The cast, with blue semicircles painted beneath their eyes, each wearing a different set of pyjamas, 'lay' beside one another in the upright bed, slumbering away.

When the action began, it featured all the delightful weirdness and terror of read dreaming. Each character was given a chance to share their particular set of nocturnal preoccupations, rising from the bed and delivering a monologue, tearing from subject to subject and from mood to mood, like real dreams do. This constant flitting from subject to subject also characterised the ensemble sections of the piece, which broke up the monologues. One particularly enjoyable sequence had the characters flow from a car journey through the English countryside to a life-sized crossword puzzle in need of an iron, to an all-night disco, complete with choreographed dance sequence.

Marjorie's monologue, delivered at the close of the play by Maya Yousif was especially affecting, cutting through the light-heartedness of other sections of the play, delivered frankly and touchingly from the front of the stage. Charles, played by Harry Burke, also had a great one, raging about the decline of old England while on a sedate country drive. Henry Philips and Ellie Cole were wonderful as the kind of smug couple everyone hates, the kind who dream in time, but also delivered a sense of doubt and ambivalence about their situation.

The one unforgettable performance of the evening (for a number of reasons) was from Shimal De Silvai as the enigmatic Sermon Head, a kind of disembodied, screaming face fastened to the top of the bed head like the figurehead of a ship. Think Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' only with eyes that protrude a little more, and an alarmingly mobile tongue. De Silvai was brilliant, hilarious and frightening, combining a delightfully spirited delivery of her character's unusual tirades, accompanied by enthusiastic head-puppetry, and great facial expressions.

Bed isn't the kind of play where you'll be able to come back home afterwards and explain the plot to your set-mate, and it may make you long for your own, under-utilised place of sleep. But it is a fantastic production of an enigmatic and delightful play, put together by a talented cast. Next time you're sitting around at 10.50 pm wondering whether you should just go to bed, maybe you should just go to Bed instead.


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