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Washington DC by Susan Berlin

A Sleeping Country

Also see Susan's review of Looped

A Sleeping Country
Marcus Kyd and Susan Lynskey
Maybe it's possible to make an interesting and insightful play out of the quest to overcome insomnia, but A Sleeping Country isn't that play. Melanie Marnich's comedy now at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, starts out promisingly but becomes unfocused; it would have worked better as a brief sketch.

The story concerns Julia (Susan Lynskey), a graphic designer whose inability to fall asleep is damaging her quality of life, specifically her relationship with her fiancé, Greg (Marcus Kyd). After her friend Dr. Midge (Connan Morrissey), a self-absorbed genius who may be the worst psychiatrist in New York City, tells her about a fatal genetic sleeplessness disorder that afflicts one family in Italy, Julia decides to meet with Isabella Orsini (Brigid Cleary), the aristocratic head of the suffering family, to discover what to do next.

It's all rather arch and self-serving: Marnich even states in her program notes that all the characters are components of her personality, and their dialogues are largely ones she's had with herself. Is life a thrilling adventure or a terrifying, unending experience? If the latter is true, is it any wonder why a person may be unable to fall asleep? But is sleeping through all the trauma, as one supporting character does, a more rational way to deal with panic, or is that person to be pitied? It's all there, in too many words. (The play also includes an easy laugh at the prevalence of "Law and Order" reruns on late-night television and a pointless running joke about Internet porn.)

The fault with the play does not fall on director Gregg Henry and the four actors who do the best they can. Lynskey is sweetly empathetic; Morrissey tries hard, but can't prevail over a character who preaches sex with strangers and suicide as rational means of dealing with life; Kyd amuses in three widely different roles; and Cleary is unflappable, even with a cartoonish Italian accent.

The best technical component of A Sleeping Country is another beautifully realized scenic design by James Kronzer. The rather pedestrian New York apartments of the first act shift to Isabella's lovely palazzo in Venice in the second.

Round House Theatre
A Sleeping Country
May 27th June 21st
By Melanie Marnich
Julia Fracassi: Susan Lynskey
Greg/Franco/Carlo: Marcus Kyd
Dr. Midge/Gondolier/Carlotta: Connan Morrissey
Isabella Orsini: Brigid Cleary
Directed by Gregg Henry
4545 East-West Highway
Bethesda, MD
Ticket Information: 240-644-1100 or www.roundhousetheatre.org


-- Susan Berlin


Also see the Current Theatre Season Calendar for D.C.



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