Out Of Synch, Insomnia

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Do androids dream of electric sheep? Insomnia brings us the dilemmas of two men – one who cannot get to sleep and one who cannot stay awake. Both are pawns in the game of the eiderdown-clad Spirit of the Night – a sort of mischievous Tooth Fairy who adds to their torment with whispers, tickles and strange Nordic lullabies. Unlike the company's previous show Decalages, which was a fast-paced cabaret of sketches and vignettes, Insomnia is a slower, more mesmerising production. It is, appropriately, both dreamy and disturbing – a darkly funny world of flying beds, chattering goldfish and muttered mantras.

The show was presented here as a work-in-progress after just one week of devising. The strengths of the three performers (Gerard Bell, Alan Fairbairn and Maria Lloyd) and director Markus Kupferblum shone through the occasional technical hitches – proving that a company of talented and experienced performers who are used to working together can achieve more in a week than others less gifted can in a year. For this production, the company were joined by designer Jayne Morley, whose simple but effective visual design made a strong contribution to the success of the piece. There is work to be done (that goes without saying after such a short rehearsal time), but even in this early incarnation, Insomnia is already roadworthy and proof that mime and physical theatre do not need to resort to a mindless flirtation with new technologies or tabloid sensationalism to be radical and entertaining – funding bodies take note!

Out of Synch make grown-up performance works that are not afraid to be foolish. Demand to see them before company director Alan Fairbairn tires of trying to convince the English that mime is a viable artform and goes back to France where he is a well-respected and well-paid practitioner.

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Issue 12-1
p. 24