Bedtime Stories turns stereotypes into realism

Heartfelt play takes an insightful look into human relations

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Feet in bed

Bedtime Stories

3.5 stars

What do a dying man, a house invader, a shock rocker and an injured stripper have in common? This strange assortment of characters appears in the play Bedtime Stories, put on by the Arts and Humanities Student Council this past Sunday and Monday.

Canadian playwright Norm Foster bases the work on a series of contained, but connected, snapshots that develop in the privacy of six different bedrooms. The structure of Bedtime Stories maintains the audience’s interest by transitioning through scenarios that provide both humorous and serious insight into the complex nature of sex and relationships.

Director Amanda D’Uva successfully conveys the play’s themes in lively scenes of intimate comedy that delve into deeper universal truths behind personal stories. The limitations of resources and experience leave the storytelling rough around the edges; however, what the play lacks in professional expertise, it makes up for with energy.

The initial unease between actors eventually settles into a rhythm that garners genuine laughs from the audience. The scene pairings of unlikely burglars and jovial movers raises the comedic bar for the whole cast, as the duos work off one another with hilarious results.

The fun begins with Lou (Kyle Salive) and Betsy Ballantyne (Meg Blair), a married couple who agree to have sex on radio for $5,000 to raise tuition for university-bound daughter Melody (Sandra Smith), which establishes one of the many connections that weave the characters together.

The husband and wife serve as an anchor for Bedtime Stories; a discussion about their marital problems with radio personality Eddie “Nighthawk” Nichols (Ben Singer) provides the beginning of a confrontation that must find resolution in the last scene of the cyclical play.

Each scene balances humour and heartbreak to reveal the realities behind the romance with varying degrees of success. The slapstick routine of clumsy stripper Sandy (Sandra Smith) and sardonic boss Charlie (Dino Bratic) cannot match the candid display by tax accountant Davey (Peter Szkotnicki) and professional thief Nick (Kyle Giddens).

While a drawback of the segmented structure in Bedtime Stories is the comparisons of the quality of each part, its merits lie in the development of meaning the play creates. Each segment builds upon information given in the previous one to present a deeper understanding of the personal lives of the characters.

Audible gasps were heard in the audience when the true identity of the groupie seducing the shock rocker Tommy Quick (Darren Schmidt) was revealed. Interwoven information heightens the sense of voyeurism through the window it provides into the most private of spaces.

Bedtime Stories is both ridiculous and heartfelt and turns seemingly stereotypical characters into three-dimensional human beings. The raucous humour enables the audience to explore the intricacies of relationships, while the actors’ outstanding performances convey the universal truths that connect people together.

For, as Lou explains to Eddie before getting it on to Steppenwolf, it is best to face up to the truth concerning relationships because “If you don’t, there will be no sex in this room until you do.”

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