Sorry Did I Wake You
Tristan Bates Theatre
Reviewed – 3rd July 2019
“it feels intimate in the small playing space but doesn’t shy away from asking big questions”
On arrival, the audience walks into a seemingly abandoned empty black box studio – not an actor or prop in sight. We were soon joined by a masked figure that looks like a bear (Zoë Dunn) who unpacks all of the props and costumes for the performance.
Each side of the stage is lit in different colours, one for each of the two sisters Bea (Nina Georgieff) and Annie (Beth Collins). They enter, apparently unaware of the presence of the bear watching in the corner. Immediately, the atmosphere is uneasy – the omnipresent bear, acknowledged occasionally but never discussed.
Sorry Did I Wake You is a tale of two halves. The first, explores the sisters’ relationship as they navigate how to deal with distance as Annie goes to university. This is represented by slick synchronised movement sequences that don’t interfere with the flow of the text. Georgieff stands out in her physicality, particularly when playing the younger version of Bea. The pair’s relationship feels natural and at no points false, which is a testament to the skill of the actors who play the sisters through a range of ages.
The second part of the story, stems from the reveal of great loss. The atmosphere, again, shifts as we see Annie attempt to regain a sense of the world. This section is led by Collins, who subtly but poignantly displays the visceral effects trauma can have on the body. It is clear that the piece has strong direction (Emma Jude Harris) as the movement here is incredibly powerful, showing the repercussions of bad news on an individual. The lighting predominantly used is a single wash light that illuminates the small playing space, but at this point it is so dim that you can barely see the actors. These details are testament to the piece’s multi-sensory exploration of grief.
This whirlwind play takes audiences through a range of emotions, time periods and memories. It feels intimate in the small playing space but doesn’t shy away from asking big questions. The bare stage is scattered with costumes that suggest a web of the entangled memories of the two girls. From the first moment, we are left uneasy at the glaring presence of the unexplained bear. More could have been done with the design of the bear mask to improve the clarity of its presence. However, in this open exploration of loss, design and music elements took the backseat. The actors’ movement skills and delivery take centre stage.
As an audience, we are not given definitive answers but are left to piece together information that is revealed to us in fits and starts. What is at the centre of this innovative play is movement, both physically but also in its narrative. The play may be no picnic, but the bear and the two girls help us to understand the infinite sadness true of loss.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Photography by Hugo Bainbridge
Sorry Did I Wake You
Tristan Bates Theatre until 7th July
Previously reviewed at this venue: