Sleeper - A Review by Lucy Davidson
Nic is stuck on a sleeper bus. A song, its title out of reach, haunts their ears. A baby cries nearby, and is comforted by its mother singing a Beatles song. This kind of texture and immersion characterises Moot Point Collective’s audio drama Sleeper, the final theatre piece in Framework Theatre’s Spring Season.
The 50-minute drama follows Nic as we accompany them on their journey to London to visit their dying Granny Bea. It’s an anxious journey, both because Nic hasn’t seen their wider family for a long time and because they worry that ageing and forgetful Bea won’t know who they are. Through Joe Hunter and Leigh Simpson’s delicately wrought music and sound effects, we hear Nic distracting themself by taking phone calls from their partner Alex, playing a miniature Casio piano and even talking to the moon.
Joe Hunter’s writing is so succinct that we recognise these moments of external anxiety are actually reflections of Nic’s internal self-identity battle, especially in the face of a family who might only know them as someone who they used to be. Nic oscillates between humour, nostalgia and anxiety, hinting at a ‘cocktail of crises’ that pushed them away from their family as a teenager, while equally indulging in rose-tinted memories of a childhood filled with dancing around Granny Bea’s living
Indeed, memories form the spine of writer Joe Hunter’s piece, and it is during moments that linger on them that Tiger Mitchell’s performance as Nic is an essential part of the success of Sleeper. In a short amount of time and in the absence of visuals, they manage to convey vulnerability and worry, affection and enthusiasm besides. Accompanied by a similarly clear and engaging performance by Drew Gill as Alex, the piece is innately listenable, and rarely drags.
Abbie Craigmyle’s direction effectively navigates the many images that present themselves such as moon landings and strangers on the bus, insurance salesmen and mandolins. More widely, she draws the elements of the piece together to emphasise the multi-faceted nature of Nic’s journey in Sleeper: it’s about the family we choose, rather than the family we’re given, the memories we make and where they go when we die, and finding a way of moving ahead when your past is trying to pull you back.
Moot Point Collective’s Sleeper is an essential reminder that memories are inescapable; however, no matter how intimidating they may appear, they might just contain flickers of light and wonder for those who know where to look.
A Review by Lucy Davidson, written as part of Framework's Theatre Writers Pilot Scheme.