Those Worrisome Sleeps

Aug 24 2018 | By More

★★☆☆☆   Fractured fantasy

Sweet Grassmarket (Venue18): Mon 20–Sun 26 Aug 2018
Review by Hugh Simpson

Those Worrisome Sleeps, RFT’s excursion into fantasy and dark magic at Sweet Grassmarket, has an unusual atmosphere and a vigorous earnestness that never translate into a convincing whole.

Ben Blow’s story, about a bereaved wizard trying to recapture the past, starts somewhere in the middle and makes the audience work hard to piece together what is going on. This is a perfectly sound device, but does not ever quite work out. It is not always clear what is or is not a flashback, or how correctly the flashbacks are being remembered, and there are some things left unresolved.

Those Worrisome Sleeps RFT EdFringe 2018 Danielle Farrow. Pic Robin Osman

Danielle Farrow. Pic: Robin Osman

It is suggested that the story takes place in some kind of post-apocalyptic scenario, but since it is clearly not our world – but one in which wizards can pluck stars out of the sky, and summon up phantoms made of light – this seems unnecessary.

Much of the first half seems like a fantasy story taken apart and stuck back together in a random order. And then with swearing added to show you it isn’t for children, which does reinforce the occasionally stilted nature of the rest of dialogue.

Once the story settles down, it turns into a conventional tale about memory, grief and loss. Considering such genre excursions are hugely under-represented at the Fringe, it is all rather disappointing.

You cannot fault the cast for their efforts. Danielle Farrow gives Jay the wizard a burning intensity that papers over the script’s inconsistencies, while Blanca Siljedahl, as assistant Dee, has a sparky humour that contrasts well with Farrow.

It is difficult to know whether the blankness of Rachel Graham’s Manda is a deliberate choice derived from the character’s odd situation, but there is nothing in her performance that suggests the overwhelming passion that Jay is willing to do unspeakable things to preserve. Chris Bain’s Aroll, meanwhile, does not quite have the range of emotion demanded.

Robin Osman’s direction does give the piece a considerable sense of purpose, but despite the ambition on show here, it never quite comes off.

Running time 1 hour (no interval)
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18), Apex Hotel, Grassmarket, EH1 2HS
Monday 20 – Sunday 26 August 2018
Daily at 6.35 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:

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