An Insomniac’s Guide to Ambulances

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         Hiya readers! I was lucky enough to be able to attend yet another performance in the Camden Fringe festival called, “An Insomniac’s Guide to Ambulance,” written by Rachel Creeger in collaboration with Aryeh Myers. It took place in yet another pub theatre but this room, upstairs at the “Gatehouse” pub, was significantly bigger than the last pub theatre I had occupied. In fact, it was an extremely wide stage, which the director used to her advantage, placing three different sets next to each other in the space.

            The story itself was an interesting concept. Following the character “Leo” and his struggles to deal with a previous trauma in his high-stress career while juggling a family as well. Here’s a little blurb from the program further describing the plot:

            “ …there’s no let up for paramedic Leo but that’s not what keeps him up at night…As he prepares for his exciting new post training student paramedics, he is terrified that his childhood sweetheart will realize he is imperfect. Dom is not who he appears to be. Lisa can’t breathe. Sam needs to man up. Jude is broken…Are Leo’s experiences real, or are they figments of his sleep deprived imagination?” 

Pretty intense subject matter. But the writing plays off the intensity at lovely points where the group of paramedics relax in the paramedic lounge area. This dialogue was acted nicely, although some of the content may have been a tad cliché. The intensity of the play builds throughout multiple scenes of Leo’s encounters with paramedic patients. Scenes like one woman thinking she is being poisoned when really she is just sitting on her shirt and it is causing the shirt to choke her. Another one is a heart attack victim and his left-behind wife, who goes into a heartfelt monologue about the struggles the couple, had starting out as an interracial couple. The play culminates with a rather tragic car accident scene (the audiences discovers that this is the accident that has been haunting Leo), and finally Leo “breaks,” releasing all the torment and confiding in his spouse his worries about his imperfections and regrets. I have to say the ending seemed very abrupt to me, but then again, I am a musical theatre girl at heart who loves a (sometimes literal) neon sign signifying the end of a play.

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            Overall the acting was very good. All of the actors, save Leo, played multiple roles in the many different ambulance scenarios throughout the play. My favorites were Josh Burdett, and Stacey Evans, whose biggest roles were Leo’s group therapist, and Leo’s wife (you can guess which actor played which). Burdett had a great scene where he spoke out directly to the audience about their personal sleep troubles. He also played a troubled soldier with PTSD and had a wonderful monologue describing his horrific memories. Evans played all of her roles very well, but approached all of them differently using interesting choices, like posture and pace of speech. These two were my favorites, but all of the actors did a great job handling their roles.

            I also really liked how the play was interactive. I liked Burdett using us as the group therapy members. Especially since he asked questions and actually responded to the audience’s answers. Also, upon walking into the room, I was given a mini flashlight (ahem… “Torch”) and when the final accident scene, was told to provide light for the actors on stage so they could see the casualties of the crash. A very interesting concept.

            Overall, I think this second experience with the Fringe was really great for me, because I got to see the variety that the “Fringe” offers. I also really enjoy seeing plays that are not perfect, because they are a lot easier to analyze and in those analysis, I feel that I come to understand the specific choices better whether it’s the actor’s choices, or the director’s. A big thank you and congratulations to Rachel Creeger for inviting me to the performance. Check out my next post to read an interview with Rachel herself!

Cheerio,

~A

*photos from telegraph.co.uk, and thepublicreviews.com

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