I’ve had issues with sleep – or rather lack of sleep – since I was a teenager. I won’t be an insomnia bore and tell you ALL of the so-called remedies I’ve tried over the years, including several sessions with a private, and very expensive, sleep therapist.
(Touch wood, the problem isn’t so bad at the moment. BBC Radio Four podcasts, moving to my flat’s back bedroom and a new mattress have helped. Plus, now when I can’t sleep, rather than struggle trying, I just consume more Twitter news about Donald Trump and Brexit – having a reason to stay up makes it less irksome.)
As much as I’ve often loathed my insomnia (therapist voice: ‘don’t give your insomnia more power by making it your enemy’), I also have it to thank for a good friendship. Years ago, after meeting at a party, my friend, sitcom writer Dave Cantor, and I bonded over our woe-some wide-awake tales. He even had an idea for a play on the subject… which, of course, I encouraged.
It’s amazing to see that long-ago idea realised onstage in Dave’s second stage play, an absurdist black comedy called Sheep, now running at the White Bear Theatre. Sheep centres around a young man named Dexy who hasn’t slept in – ouch! – 21 nights. It’s directed by Georgia Leanne Harris and features Ciaran Lonsdale as Dexy, with a scene-stealing turn from James Groom as a maniacal pill popper and one of Dexy’s numerous late-night visitors.
Watching Sheep made me appreciate how relatively mild my own bouts of insomnia have been – and thankful, once again, for BBC Radio Four documentaries on iplayer. It reminded me too of Kenneth Calhoun’s excellent 2014 novel Black Moon, strapline “a world without sleep is a nightmare”, in which we see just how desperate, and dangerous, people will become without sleep.
As a proud friend, I have to share with you the three, four-star reviews below that Dave has received for Sheep from top-notch London theatre bloggers: Chris Omaweng for LondonTheatre1, Anne Cox for Stage Review, and Richard Braine for London Pub Theatres.