Five insomniacs can’t go to sleep in the Z Theatre Company’s cleverly named
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.