At 2.17 every morning, nine-year old Eddie has a nightmare; her beloved granny is missing, and nobody is listening…How can the Slumber Sisters help restore Eddie’s sweet dreams?
The Slumber Sisters are an all-singing trio whose role is to monitor our dreams and ensure that our night-time wanderings are happy and safe. Armed with humour, compassion and imaginative remedies, theyâ€™re determined to lead Eddie safely through the night.
Slumber HQ is where it’s all happening, and that’s where the audience enters – imagine a futuristic space station with sparkle, colour and a big red telephone – to join Penelope, Augusta and Robyn as they puzzle over what’s causing Eddie’s nightmares and how they can help her.
The cause is easy: Eddie is grieving. Her granny died and nobody has talked to her about it; she hasn’t been able to say goodbye. The solution – how to deal with death and grief – is the tricky bit. The Slumber Sisters, with a bit of help from Elvis, get there in the end.
Catherine Wheels has produced a musical play that is funny, sad, pacy, a little bit scary and with sufficient special effects and comings-and-goings to keep the audience guessing and engaged. The children present (including my almost-8 yr old) were all twisting this way and that to see what would happen next.
It’s interesting, in a production aimed at children, that the Slumber Sisters are a nod to the Andrews Sisters, and Elvis, is well, Elvis. Clearly though, both have universal appeal; my 8yr old’s favourite bits were the Elvis impersonator. That it works is a credit to the whole theatre company, and the verve and talent of all the actors.
I was reminded of the longed-for days at school, in the seventies, when a touring educational company would come and entertain us in the school hall. It didn’t matter whether the play was about cheese-making, growing up or the Green Cross Code (yep, we had them all) it was great entertainment with a message. And this, of course, is exactly what Catherine Wheels is doing, albeit in contemporary and far more polished way.
The message is that children and young people need to be involved, listened to and heard. Death might be hard, and grief painful, but whether they lose a treasured toy, pet hamster, or their adored granny, they need to able to say goodbye.
The almost-8 yr old got it. On the way home, he said, ‘I’m not like Eddie. When my great-granny died I got to say goodbye…’ which I thought was a great accolade. I asked him if he enjoyed the play. ‘Oh, yes,’ he said, ‘except-‘ (Oh dear. I waited patiently.) ‘Except… it would have been even better if Elvis had been riding a dinosaur.’
And you know what? If it would help rid the world of nightmares, I bet the Slumber Sisters would be game for that any day.
Eddie and the Slumber sisters is created and drected by Gill Robertson, written by Anita Vettesse, designed by Karen Tennent, with music composed by Danny Krass, and lighting designed by Lizzie Powell.
The cast is: Chiara Sparkes (Eddie) and Natalie Arle-Toyne, India Shaw-Smith and Colette Dalal Tchantcho (the Slumber Sisters).
Produced with the National Theatre of Scotland, and recommended for ages 8+
Touring Scotland from April to June 2018. The show is also part of the Childrenâ€™s Festival from 30 May to 3 June:Â www.imaginate.org.uk/festival
For more information:Â www.catherinewheels.co.uk