Theatre review: The Sleeper

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: A very British girl in her pyjamas is making a complaint on the night train, deep in the dark, somewhere in Europe. Karina, played by Michelle Fahrenheim, has been spooked by a pair of eyes in her couchette bunk; she demands it be dealt with, though what she’s sneakily hoping for is actually an upgrade to first class.

theSpace @ Jury’s Inn (Venue 260)

****

The perfectly European train guard, George, with a flawless manner and accent delivered by Joshua Jacob, asks her if she really wants him to intervene.

Jacob perfectly conveys the character of the official whose eyes have seen more, know more, than he tells; he’s been here before, on the “train of second chance”.

He warns her repeatedly that if she persists, if she can’t handle the problem herself, “we have to follow the procedure”. Karina wants to find the whole thing hilarious; only slowly does she open her eyes to what she’s done.

This three-hander in the tiniest space at the top of Jury’s Inn is an exceptional piece of theatre-making, and a powerful, understated examination of the moral choices amid Europe’s refugee crisis.

The performances, including Aya Daghem as the silently beseechful, proudly disdainful Amena, are subtle and skilled, as is the stage choreography, as the drama evolves on a repeating loop. The play is written and directed by Henry C Krempels – a journalist who brings his own considerable reporting to bear on the piece.

Until 19 August. Today 10:30am.