Stories To Tell In The Middle Of The Night written and performed by Francesca Millican-Slater was not what I expected. ★★

© Graeme Braidwood

Its premise explores the many thoughts that people have before trying to fall sleep, and then still not being able to do so hours later. It’s a great concept for many of us can relate to the drivel that goes through our minds prohibiting our brain to switch off and go to sleep. However, Francesca’s stories were too disconnected for the average person to relate to. The odd story resonated some recollection in the back of our memory archive – like the supermarket couple scenario, but the rest were just tales that didn’t quite grip spectators, having to wait a while for a punchline. It would be a great sketch for a Spoken Word night, but as performance it lacked spark. We were merely watching a woman talk about things that go on in her own head. Sadly, they were things that not many people could connect to, alienating us in parts. It was neither comedic, nor was it dramatic. Stories To Tell In The Middle Of The Night would have been something to play on the radio to help you fall asleep.

There were some poetic notes to the writing. So, audibly, and in some instances, it was pleasing; particularly when Francesca came back to the middle podium and described where we were in the night using astronomical angles and nautical references to help us imagine the arrival of the dawn, and the familiar feeling of ‘oh shit, I need to be up in a few hours’.

The Rep Foundry is a fantastic programme that gives new writers the opportunity to create, and later perform, their own work. Perhaps the next draft would benefit from a framing device whereby the three podia that the protagonist utilises may represent the id, ego, and superego of the insomniac psyche portrayed. As it stands, the stream of consciousness text is lost in the back waters.