Sunday, October 13, 2013

Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves, Cleveland Public Theatre

Some say dreams can be interpreted and provide information about yourself, reveal your hidden desires and maybe even ferret out some unknown strengths.

Of course, others claim dreams are nothing more than random memories and imaginary flights stitched together haphazardly by a mischievous brain that is off duty and has some time to kill.

Whatever you believe, Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves at Cleveland Public Theatre is a dream sequence that will keep you awake and riveted. This is an encore world premiere production, since the show was first mounted at CPT in 2011.

Written by Holly Holsinger, Chris Seibert and director Raymond Bobgan, this version of the show feels more amusing and at times even more poignant than the original.

The three performers are the same, as Anne McEvoy plays Evelyn, a middle-age woman beset by voices in her head that keep her awake at night. (Or is she asleep and they are her dreams?)

So she visits her attic to discover Ev (Holsinger), a younger version of herself, and Zelda (Seibert), a playful scamp who seems like a core identity of the other two. In various combinations, the three “herselves” interact, play games, sing songs and explore this woman’s identity.

Weaving music (some original and some standards) into the piece, this creative team fashions a play that is never linear but always accessible. McEvoy’s Evelyn is firmly rooted in her frustration at not being able to sleep, and her dry and wry delivery generates many laughs.

As Ev, Holsinger is always compelling as she dares to broach the boundary of the attic and eventually “go downstairs.” And Seibert is the imaginary friend we all would love to have, eager to engage in any game we want and playing her roles, such as a guy from a 1930s-era movie, with √©lan.

Director Bobgan keeps the action streamlined and cohesive so that this very internal play never lapses into navel-gazing (or frontal lobe-gazing). The result is a production that is tight, witty and often quite powerful—encouraging all of us to make friends with the moon voices and fanciful spirits that speak to us in the dead of night.

(To see my review of the original staging of this play, go to:

Insomnia: The Waking of Herselves
Through Octomber 26 at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Avenue, 216-631-2727.

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