Sometimes, when it comes to suspending our disbelief, we just have to go with the flow. In Eddie & The Slumber Sisters, for example, it is never explained why the guardian forces monitoring the dreams of children appear to resemble the Andrews Sisters dressed to entertain the US Air Force during World War Two, nor why they have an unseen superior called Charles; how many of this show's intended audience will have even heard of Charlie’s Angels?
Sometimes, when it comes to suspending our disbelief, we just have to go with the flow.
Yet, to their credit, the much acclaimed director-and-writer team of Gill Robertson and Anita Vettesse run with this USAF-vibe in both staging and front-of-house staffing, and it works. Additional support from the National Theatre of Scotland (co-producers along with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company) enables designer Karen Tennent to think more spectacularly; the result is a circular, revolving stage around which the audience sits on a variety of seats, chairs and beds, while four compass points are filled with either the Sisters’ scaffolding and technology or the titular Eddie's bedroom. The result feels genuinely spacious.
Chiara Sparkes is suitably troubled as young Eddie, who has started having bad dreams – always starting at 2.17am – ever since her much-loved grandmother died. Those nightmares are becoming so bad that the detectors in Slumberland are showing readings of more than 29 points, although what that precisely means, and who is really in danger, isn't made clear. This is odd, given that the early part of the show is a tad too explanation-heavy as the three Slumber Sisters – Natalie Arle-Toyne, India Shaw-Smith and Colette Dalal Tchantcho – outline the scenario, along with some excellent close-harmony singing.
Nevertheless, the psychological toll of the bad dreams is getting so bad for Eddie that the Slumber Sisters ultimately have to break all the rules, entering the real world in order to help – some confusion with an obviously fake Elvis Presley notwithstanding. The show genuinely takes flight in this latter half and the result is a genuinely affecting exploration of grief and why the desire to say goodbye isn't just something adults know.