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Sofa/Bed at the Abbey Studio***
5:38pm Thursday 16th February 2012 in Freetime
These two plays shouldn’t have been put together.
‘Sofa’ was a light-hearted romcom, jumping back and forth through time as it followed three interconnected love stories. ‘Bed’ was a surreal, at times very serious, insight into dreams and the difficulties of sleeping peacefully. Romantic comedy and serious surrealism; talk about a niche market.
Frankly, the first piece just set the wrong tone for the second. It wasn’t hilarious, but ‘Sofa’ was at least consistently amusing for parts one and three (part two fell a little flat on laughs.) You couldn’t doubt the chemistry between the couples either; Dan Quirke and Kat Weiner deserve special mention for convincing performances as lovably weird duo Billy and Mandy. It was enjoyable to watch, and the show left an easy-going, fun-loving atmosphere.
Which ‘Bed’ destroyed. Second half starts and we’re subjected to an endless barrage of emotional monologues, which I’ve had a personal hatred for ever since seeing Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’.
I’m not saying it was entirely dreary. At first, watching the characters’ different dreams transport them rapidly from country road drives to disco dances, Beatle’s renditions and all manner of random scenarios was odd, and intriguing for it. By the end, it was about as intriguing as Big Brother Live. At 4am.
It’s a shame really. The acting was good, and the lighting and smoke effects certainly created an eerie atmosphere that suited the play’s increasingly dark tone. But the in-depth nature of the script just seemed too heavy after the farcical amusement of the first half. Maybe I’d have enjoyed both if they’d been on separate nights.
Ultimately, if you’re able to switch personas within the break, then maybe you’ll see ‘Bed’ in a different light. Otherwise, go for the first show then leave at half-time. I wish I had.