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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Buxton 2012 arrow And All These Sleepless Nights Will Explode Tomorrow
And All These Sleepless Nights Will Explode Tomorrow
Published on Sunday, 08 July 2012

3 starsUnderground Venues, Comedy
7, 20 Jul, 9:00pm-10:00pm; 8, 11 Jul, 10:30pm-11:30pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

As we walked, a little shell-shocked, out of Tam Hinton's much-anticipated show, a friend posed the question: is it possible to admire the quality of a performance, but still be impatient for it to end? And I have to admit, I had a similar dilemma during parts of Hinton's densely-packed narrative. The brilliance is unmistakeable, but it's really hard work; his wilder flights of fantasy tried my patience, and occasionally my stomach.

First things first, though: I have simply no idea why this is listed in the comedy section of the programme. Of course, it has witty moments, but it's a straight-up piece of storytelling - or one-man theatre, with Hinton acting out all the roles. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found his male characters far better-drawn than the female ones, with a slippery, lawyerly Mephistopheles figure proving a personal highlight. The enemy of a mysterious woman in red, he's a key player in a timeless battle between order and chaos, good and evil.

What's truly remarkable about Hinton's tale is that he's conjured a complete alternative mythology, with its own warring gods and complex rules - yet it seems as comprehensively realised as religions that took thousands years to evolve. In Hinton's world, the departed face a fateful choice in the afterlife. Pick wisely and you're reunited with your loved ones, though the consequences may not be as predictable as they seem. And so, the meddling deities create a crisis here on earth, with different generations and diverse social classes brought together and forced apart.

It's a cracking story, but some aspects - especially its interpretation of child abuse - made me genuinely uncomfortable to be in the room. And the ending, on proper scrutiny, didn't quite deliver the resolution I was hoping for; it feels like a character's ambition has wrought a justified comeuppance, but when you think about it carefully, she's been most unfairly framed.

But perhaps it's a mistake to expect a traditional dramatic structure to this highly unconventional show. Hinton's physicality is a continuing highlight, never showy but always striking as he moves from role to role. The lyrical script has barely a word out of place, and the worlds he describes are easy to picture, whether we're in his version of the afterlife or a grimly run-down housing estate.

Ultimately though, there were just too many moments when I felt myself being left behind - and a few too many sequences which I suspected were there purely for the sake of being weird. As Exhibit A for that claim, I offer the brief opening video, which apparently calls back to previous work but has no meaningful connection to the rest of the piece at all. Hinton has so much imagination - and so much energy - that I fear he overestimates his audience's ability to follow where he leads. Still, it's fascinating to spend an hour in his bizarre, and oddly logical, world.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.