I Can't Sleep

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

You can see why David O’Doherty might appeal to children: with his soft features, shaggy hairstyle and sloppy demeanour, he’s virtually a breathing cuddly toy.

Youngsters will easily identify with him in I Can’t Sleep, too: a fidgety fun-seeker preferring adventures over the tedium of slumber. So with the aid of the slightly more grown-up Maeve Higgins, and considerable input from the audience, he delays the inevitable bedtime with escapades involving pirates, sharks and dashing princes – invoked with nothing more than a couple of mattresses, their associated bedding, and a whole heap of imagination.

Children are a tough audience, babbling away with their own conversations and commentary with scant respect for what’s going on in front of them. O’Doherty and Higgins ignore the chatter when needs be, while at other times encouraging feedback to help the kids feel part of the show. And the children aren’t backwards at coming forwards with their suggestions, demonstrating just how immersed in the show they have become.

The audience banter is effortless, and neither performer is reluctant to look a fool if that’s what the crowd demands. They play across a wide age range, too – getting a double, or even triple hit with some of the gags – the younger children enjoying a groansome pun, the older ones enjoying the apology for it, and adults enjoying the occasional over-their-heads references to the metaphysical nature of the shenanigans.

But such mentions are only a tiny part of the restless slapstick, where pillow-fights are more important than punchlines. It’s a world of escapist adventure with which every child can easily identify, which is why this is such a fun-filled 45 minutes for them all.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Melbourne, April 2009

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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