Chasing Zeds

Five insomniacs can’t go to sleep in the Z Theatre Company’s cleverly named Chasing Zeds. This perfectly perfunctory example of devised theatre explores physical representations of their various forms of suffering to a well-chosen contemporary soundtrack, opening with the arresting I Can’t Get No Sleep by Faithless. Beginning as an ensemble, the cast interact smoothly with each other; a motley crew tied together in the dead of their waking nights. One by one they peel out and perform personal stories, including a child who wishes to dream, a stressed schoolgirl struggling with GCSEs and the especially tragic older man who has lost his wife.

Despite the well-chosen nature of the subject matter, it never quite felt like Chasing Zeds explored insomnia to its full potential, with more clichés than innovation.

The presence of insomnia is embodied throughout by a frightening figure in black, contrasting with the pale pyjamas of her victims. The dancer moves with a grace that contrasts well with the others’ more wretched movements. As the play continues, the personified disorder becomes more entwined in the dance to represent their heightening struggle. I felt, however, that the character was more ominous when she was silent and she would have retained more power without moments of speech.

While the movement was rarely ground-breaking in its originality, instances of imaginative formation create impressively claustrophobic viewing, particularly during the schoolgirl tale. The same section also used props to the best effect, with an understated yet chilling use of red ribbons. Additionally the clutching of pillowcases made an interesting representation of frustration.

Although heightened emotions are often a feature of physical theatre, the facial expressions of the ensemble become, at points, too caricatured to evoke sympathy, which detracted from the stories. The projection onto the back of the stage, however, was impressively subtle, never distracting from the actors’ performance but adding a further layer of unease to the overall atmosphere. Despite the well-chosen nature of the subject matter, it never quite felt like Chasing Zeds explored insomnia to its full potential, with more clichés than innovation.

Reviews by Amber Segal

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Trouble sleeping? Chasing Zeds is about insomnia and the trouble that comes with it. How do you get on with life when you can barely sleep? Through stylisation this piece exhibits the psychological pain of an insomniac.