By Bridget Boyle and Liz Skitch with David Megarrity
Debase Productions, for the Awesome Festival
Director: Scott Witt
Composer: Brett Collery
Performed by Bridget Boyle and Liz Skitch
Seagull Tent, Perth Cultural Centre
Until October 10
(Recommended for 3 – 8 year-olds)
What do our kids get up to at night?
Little Lily (Liz Skitch) is living in a new house. She starts at a new school in the morning and, unsurprisingly, she’s a little daunted and more than a bit sleepless.
Mum (Bridget Boyle) patiently lets Lily run through the usual stalling manoeuvres – drink, toilet, story, find my favourite cuddly toy – but, eventually, the voice of authority has to prevail: “It’s Go To Sleep Time Now, Lily; Why Don’t You Count Some Sheep?”
So Lily learns of the time-honoured technique imposed by exasperated parents on fidgety children. Mum fetches Lily’s toy sheep from a box, she snuggles up and, despite distractions, gets counting.
But what’s this? Out of the toy box emerges a real live sheep called Baarbara (Boyle again), and shut-eye is the furthest thing from her mind. For the rest of the night, Baarbara leads Lily on a madcap misadventure through the ways and means of getting sleepy.
Some exercises turn into a frenetic James Brown routine. All the famous nursery rhymes – Rockabye Baby, It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, Three Blind Mice – are sad and horrible (many parents are nodding their heads in agreement). Baarbara’s lullaby turns into an arena rock anthem in the style of We Will Rock You.
It’s a disaster. Lily is exasperated: “I Don’t Like You!!”
But soon their adventures take them through a storm at sea, to a busy box city, and on a drive to Lily’s new school. As Baarbara says: “You need a friend you can count on.”
Finally, Lily wakes up from her dream, refreshed and ready for her new life.
Lily Can’t Sleep easily passes the great test of theatre for little kids; rapt attention punctuated by thick and fast questions to mum and dad. Skitch makes a perky, smart Lily and Boyle, who’s an elongated version of Dawn French, is raucous and irrepressible as Baarbara.
Lily Can’t Sleep mightn’t quite reach the heights of feverish imagination achieved by DNA’s fabulous Atishoo, which told a similar story at the 2011 Perth Festival, but it’s a well-made, fun start to the awesome Awesome Festival.
This review appeared in The West Australian 6.10.14