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18 September, 2019

Deceptively simple; incredibly powerful

I remember once my university lecturer said, “…sometimes the image the imagination conjures up is ten times more powerful than anything we can put on stage.”

URLAND’s Bedtime Stories certainly affirms this ideology.

The performance can be described as a radio play or, perhaps more fittingly, as a dark, disturbed version of Play School (Thomas Dudkiewicz does give the impression of an off-key children’s presenter, gazing slightly too intently at the audience as they find their seats).

If you’re anything like me, once you realise the audio is the main event of this show, the scepticism grows.

A one-man show, a one-man radio show?

But I must encourage you to surrender your disbelief.

Allow yourself to be enveloped by Dudkiewicz and his voice and the vast array of definitive characters this one man portrays.

Be enveloped by the evocative soundscape projected through a 360-degree surround sound system, the grumbling of thunder, the spitting of gunfire, the rattling of a hospital gurney upon a linoleum floor.

And you will find it is rather easy to be immersed in this narrative.

The narrative itself is so much more than the title implies.

On the surface, it is a coming of age story.

Lily listens to tales told by her father, Max and her grandfather, George.

Her responses and questions mature as she does.

Bedtime Stories has the texture of a children’s story but there are moments within that are incredibly dark.

Too dark for a young girl like Lily.

Because the stories aren’t for Lily at all.

They are for Max.

Max who feels so alien in this world. Max who struggles to communicate with his wife, his daughter, his father. Max who desires to make sense of the world and so he tells stories.