Cleveland Public Theatre
Insomnia, the Waking of Herselves
Gordon Square Theatre
6415 Detroit Avenue
Through October 26, 2013
Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday
Cleveland Public Theatre’s “Insomnia, the Waking of Herselves” first premiered in April of 2011 at CPT with the same cast: Holly Holsinger as Ev, Chris Selbert as Zelda and Anne McEvoy as Evelyn. As it was done before, the work is brilliantly written and acted. There is just one small minor detail. The play did not make any sense to me whatsoever. I mean, I understand the gist of what the playwright is trying to say. I just cannot figure out why they are saying it. Don’t let that stop you from seeing it as the theater was filled to capacity on a Monday night…so what do I know.
The play begins with Ev hiding out in the attic of her apparently well appointed home. She is at the point of her mid-life crisis where she cannot sleep and has grown weary of the phony life that she is leading that is not even close to what she had once dreamed. Ev awakens Zelda, her “imaginary friend” who lives in a double steamer trunk and the two of them spend time playing various games that Ev had invented as a child. In the course of their play, they awaken Evelyn who comes upstairs to the door of the attic.
Enter Evelyn, an older version of Ev who has developed the “mothering voice of reason” in her maturing years and seems to be the real person. Evelyn attempts to persuade Ev and Zelda that her life is perfect and that she is contented even though she has to deal with social gatherings that are filled with phonies and her husband who is cheating on her with a much younger girl.
Here is where it gets bizarre. At some point in the play you suddenly figure out that it is Ev who is real and Evelyn is the figment of her imagination just as Zelda is. In so many words (and yes…there are so many words in this two hour plus verbal marathon) Ev must come to grips with her reality (including her chronic insomnia) and begin living her life as she would like to have led it as the later Evelyn.
She must deal with the fact that her husband is cheating on her. This is revealed by Zelda who uses a “magic” Viewmaster to see and give a blow by blow description of Edward having sex with a young woman in the bathroom during a party in his honor. One of the laugh out loud moments of the play is when Zelda runs out of pictures in mid coitus and pauses only to have Evelyn hand her the part two disc so that she can continue with the running graphic sex dialog.
There is also the part of the production when the three of them take a trip “to the dark part of the crescent moon” where Ev discovers a locket that she had many years ago as a child. Still later is the scene when Zelda reveals that she has been the “imaginary friend” for past generations of Ev’s family going back many years in fact.
Then there are the songs. Five in all with only one that is recognizable. They are done in a sing-song manner much like you would find if you were to visit treatment center for the mentally challenged. Except for the final “Me and My Shadow” selection, “Golden Earrings”, Moon Song”, If Your Kisses Can’t Hold the Man You Love” and “Laughing Song” make just about as much sense as the play does, but maybe that is the point.
In the end, Ev comes to grips with her life and returns to the reality that is downstairs (including confronting Edward about his peccadilloes) as Zelda and Evelyn settle down for a child’s tea party.
As for the quality of the performance, it is top notch. Chris Selbert as Zelda has this bounding energy and off kilter look and mannerisms that will put fear into any man in the audience who has ever had a “crazy” girlfriend. Anne McEvoy as Evelyn brings the voice of reason and calm to the production with a sound performance and great physical movement. Holly Holsinger plays Ev as she is…sleepless, neurotic, lacking confidence and generally a mid life train wreck. She develops the character slowly along giving hints of sanity and perception until she arrives at her goal that is to cope with life as she finds it.
Prude Alert: There is not a whole lot of profanity in this production (fact is I could not find any) but there is that monolog of Zelda describing a graphic sex act in the downstairs bathroom.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): “Insomnia, The Waking of Herselves” is probably geared more towards a woman’s point of view and psyche. I did not see many unattached men in the audience lending me to believe that it is not a play geared for the male gender. It was not something that I readily understood, but I am not going to lose any sleep over it.
Take advantage of $12 Thursdays and Mondays or FREE BEER FRIDAYS - each Friday CPT invite you to stay after the show, mingle with the artists and friends, and enjoy... FREE BEER, WINE, and SOFT DRINKS.
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