Thursday, 24 July 2014

In My Bed @ 24:7 Festival 23.07.14

When love is in harmony it is a wonderful thing. But when one person’s love isn’t reciprocated that can create all kinds of problems, not only for the couple involved but also for those who care for them. In My Bed, from writer Rebekah Harrison, shows the consequences asymmetric affection can have, and how something that should be beautiful can turn out to be bleak.

The play begins with the small talk of housemates Sarah (Olivia Sweeney) and Rose (Amy Drake), who quickly form an endearing double act. “New bedding means one thing!” chides the irrepressible Rose as Sarah prepares for a date. The date leads to Danny (Kurt Nikko) coming home with her; they cuddle, but he's reluctant to get closer and so that's as far is it goes. Something about this doesn't seem quite right or, as Rose puts it the next morning, “Snuggles, what the fuck?” Soon Danny becomes an ever-present, leaving Sarah to question what it all means while Rose is kept at a distance, the blissful balance of their friendship thrown out by the introduction of a third force.

I don’t know what the actors and director did to achieve such great onstage chemistry and cohesion, but I have seen very few pieces where the characters seemed so natural as a collective. They also gave great individual performances: Sweeney has an iridescent intensity as Sarah, Drake is interesting and irreverent as the doting Rose, while Nikko works well as Danny, the man who isn’t quite there. Although dealing with some dark issues the text is not heavy, using a lightness of touch to paint a detailed picture with a few strokes. Recycling lines from different parts of the play works wonderfully well, with the actors striding across the stage to deliver these flashbacks while Sarah descends into internal agony.

The result is hypnotic, with the repetitions accentuating how trapped the characters have become in the destructive patterns of their lives. However, all this is lightened by a playful humour, as when Danny asks a series of disturbing ‘would you rather’ questions and Rose delivers her catchphrase “fuck him off!” with ever increasing splenetic vigour.

A very well written play with excellent performances and smart direction, In My Bed condenses the consequences of unbalanced affection into a moving hour of theatre, one that is well worth watching and that will hopefully have a life beyond its run at 24:7.

Words: Andrew Anderson

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