THREE MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
Caryl Churchill's playlet from 1980 takes us into the bedroom with three couples, whose relationships are rocky, raw and toxic.
She writes two kinds of fight – one a restless, wordless desert, one a torrent of words, tumbling over one another, in the over-lapping dialogue for which she is famous, used for the first time in this early piece.
The triptych begins with the strongest element – Frank and Margaret, ten years wed, and launching late at night into the vicious war of words we imagine is not unusual.
Both actors are excellent at the rhythms of the recriminations – Sara Thompson entirely believable as the anguished, frustrated wife; Tim Murphy perhaps not quite menacing, or drunk, enough to give his wounding words full weight.
The Hammers programmes are cleared, the phone changed, and we're in another room, another bed for a different kind of dialogue of the deaf, where Richard Spong's subtly delineated Pete takes refuge in nerdy talk about movies as his depressed wife Dawn [Candy Lillywhite-Taylor] paints on scarlet lips and pathetically pleads for help.
The last scene has the immature film fan again, but this time shacking up with Margaret from scene one. But their ex's are never far away: “We talk about them a lot, say the same things over and over.” Jealousy, loneliness, unfocussed angst, a wonderfully effective emotionally-charged silence, and then the whole things fades in the middle of Pete's mansplaining Apocalypse Now.
An interesting early work, and well worth reviving, especially when it's done with this kind of artistry and attention to detail. Directed for The Renegades Theatre Co. by Lin Pollitt. Even if 50 minutes is little short for an evening's entertainment.