Ask Audrey Ask Audrey
Archived

All My Sleep and Waking

"[Brown's] observations of family disquiet are piercing"

Audrey review: Family members swim in unhappy circles in this pithy and surprisingly funny deathwatch drama.

Text size
Text size
Add to favourites

All My Sleep and Waking

Date: 1 Dec 2018

Creatures are doomed to swim in unhappy circles in Mary Rachel Brown’s pithy family drama: goldfish (named Heathcliff and Cathy) in their bowl; sharks and eels in the Sydney Aquarium at Darling Harbour; four people in the home of their dying father.

Maria (Angela Bauer) has undertaken all of the care duties during her father’s physical and mental decline. His demands keep her on a short leash. She unwinds with wine and the occasional oxycodine tablet meant for him.

Older sister Anne (Di Adams) has kept her distance until recently. With the end in sight now, she is determined to manage the messy business of death as quickly and efficiently as possible. She can’t bring herself to go into her dad’s room to see him one last time, however.

Neither can brother Peter (Richard Sydenham), who dallies and dithers while composing lists in his head to help calm his nerves.

While the siblings bicker, Anne’s 20-something son Josh (Alex Beauman) observes from the sidelines, appalled and amused by turns.

Written some 20 years ago (it was staged at the Old Fitzroy in 2002), this is one of Brown’s earliest plays. It’s short (70 minutes), beautifully written and its observations of family disquiet are piercing. Brown’s brand of gallows humour is beguiling and you see in All My Sleep some seeds of her later and better-known play, The Dapto Chaser, another story about children dealing (and not) with the passing and legacies of a dysfunctional father.

Director Dino Dimitriadis tunes the piece perfectly to this intimate space on designer Maya Keys’ distillation of a cheerless home. Lighting (Alexander Berlage) and sound (Ben Pierpoint) are precisely calibrated.

Adams is excellent as brittle, bustling and, at one point, hilariously arachnophobic Anne. Bauer reveals the desperate sadness in Maria, for whom life seems to have passed by. Sydenham is pitch-perfect as the anxious Peter, who resorts to Toastmasters when confronted with the prospect of having to deliver a eulogy. Beauman is contrastingly calm as Josh, a young man with dad issues of his own.

A wise play, a fine production and easy to recommend.

Content
The Dance of Death
Add to favourites
ArchivedBelvoir, Surry Hills, Sydney 10 Nov - 23 Dec 2018

The Dance of Death

Audrey review: A dream-team combination falls disappointingly flat in Belvoir's final show of 2018.

Aspects of Love
Add to favourites
ArchivedHayes Theatre Company, Potts Point, Sydney 22 Nov - 6 Jan 2019

Aspects of Love

Audrey review: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s plus-sized melodrama shrinks to fit chamber dimensions but emotional shallowness remains the show’s Achilles heel.

The Smallest Hour
Add to favourites
ArchivedGriffin Theatre, Kings Cross, Sydney 5 - 15 Dec 2018

The Smallest Hour

Audrey review: A charming light entertainment with just enough bittersweet stirred in.

See More

More to see

View All
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Add to favourites
MusicalCapitol Theatre, Haymarket, Sydney 5 Jan - 23 Jun 2019

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl’s beloved story in its musical theatre form in a production featuring Paul Slade Smith, Tony Sheldon and Lucy Maunder.

Crime and Punishment
Add to favourites
ArchivedLimelight on Oxford, Darlinghurst, Sydney 12 - 22 Dec 2018

Crime and Punishment

A fresh adaptation of one of the most extraordinary novels of all time gets inside the mind of a destitute student who commits a brutal murder.

Home
Add to favourites
ArchivedRoslyn Packer Theatre, Walsh Bay, Sydney 9 - 18 Jan 2019

Home

Sydney Festival: A visual poem about the stuff of life by performance artist Geoff Sobell.

Rose Riot
Add to favourites
ArchivedLeura Everglades Gardens, Leura, NSW 12 - 27 Jan 2019

Rose Riot

Sport for Jove celebrates 10 years of theatre-making with its most ambitious project to date.

Top