Pig Iron Theatre Company / Joseph Chaikin, Shut Eye

Review in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

Shut Eye starts with a bed and a coma patient and at first presents itself as a regular piece of naturalistic drama. The ward auxiliary mops around the bed; the coma patient stays in his own silent world as his sister muses aloud on their relationship and her own life worries. And then… with ease and fluidity the whole thing shifts into a space between dream and reality, where characters and stories mesh and weave into a beautifully realised exploration of co-existing opposites such as presence and absence, love and duty, memory and amnesia.

At first the slip into alternative realities is almost credible as part of a ‘real life’ story: the sister’s business colleagues arrive for a power breakfast meeting by the bedside that is rather unlikely but still possible… From then on it’s a steady slide into parallel universes as everyone bursts into song, beds dance across the stage and, like the White King in Through the Looking Glass, we ask – who is dreaming whom? And if you are dreaming me what happens to me when you wake up? Who is self and who is ‘other’?

Moments that have stayed to haunt: two figures curled together, hanging from a ladder, a picture of fragility and sibling love; the sound of an accordion from a whimsical wandering Sandman; a half-eaten muffin sitting on the unconscious body, a horribly funny re-enactment of the moments before a car crash. The company use any and every theatrical element – words, music, physical action and visual motif – to create a piece of theatre that is both funny and moving – a totally rewarding experience.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-3
p. 24