Sleeping Beauty Insomnia (4 stars)

Sleeping Beauty Insomnia

Photo: Leslie Black

Israeli War-set play with absorbing characterisation and comedy

Lebanese playwright Abdelrahim Alawji bounds to the front of the stage. ‘This play is set in a theatre, during the Israeli war, where people used to hide during the …’

Then boom, acrid smoke and the lights go up on two figures clinging on to each other on the stage of a bombed-out theatre. Younger Man, David Walshe, is a big jessie, terrified of the dark. Older Man, Stewart Porter, is an ornery piece of work. ‘If I could see you,’ he says wearily at one point, ‘I’d batter you.’

Graham Eatough has trimmed Alawji’s original for the Play, Pint and Pint slot and directs with huge gusto. Walshe and Porter are terrific, agreeing on nothing, battling for the affection of Girl (Clare Gray), who arrives mysteriously after a particularly violent raid. Casting the Irish Walshe with the gruff Scottish Porter points up the Christian-Muslim divisions while making the themes universal. The characterisation and comedy are so absorbing that, towards the end, the politics come like a kick in the stomach. In a good way.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat 26 May. Seen at Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 14 May.

A Play, a Pie & a Pint: Sleeping Beauty Insomnia

Two men shelter in a bombed out theatre in Beirut, with the body of a dead girl as their only companion. Find out how they get on and who gets the girl in this dark new comedy by Abdelrahim Alwaj. Ticket price includes a pie and a drink.

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