Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Low Down

Five women around the world who are all awake in the middle of the night.  Their narratives are interwoven to reveal their joint story, exploring the harrowing effects Insomnia can have on the lives of those that suffer from it.


Apparently 30% of British people suffer with short periods of insomnia, women being twice as likely to experience it so this is a topic that is likely to resonate with many. 

“Have a warm bath, a warm drink, watch television, listen to the radio, don’t watch television, dim the lighting in your bedroom, don’t listen to the radio, practice relaxation, have a warm… watch… don’t watch… listen… don’t…” 

Awake opens with a stream of advice for those unable to sleep which builds into a cacophony of conflicting and confusing advice. 

It’s the middle of the night. Many people are deeply, blissfully asleep, unaware of the tortured souls around them for whom sleep is elusive. Five women around the world, unable to sleep, who join in the conversations on the “I’m Awake… are you?”  online forum. They all different stories, different possible reasons for not sleeping. What they do have in common is the lonliness of being awake, of being unable to sleep. Gradually their stories becoming interlinked, weaving together until we are exploring an altogether darker world and story. 

Written and performed by Miranda Colmans, Awake is her first solo play and draws on her own experience of insomnia. At 40 minutes running time it could have been merely a verbatim account, an interesting if slightly harrowing, experience. But Colman uses it to create a world of intersecting stories with a plot that explores much more than simply being awake at 3am. The writing is deft and fluid with each character clearly drawn with plenty of light and shade.  

Colman also performs the piece (and on the night I went, sorted out a lighting malfunction at the start) presenting each character and her idiosyncrasies beautifully. She paces the piece well and the audience were captivated throughout. 

Awake is a wonderful example of first class storytelling to be found on the free fringe. It is well worth the walk across the Meadows to Basement @ The Cuckoo’s Nest, (69 Home Street, Edinburgh, Venue 106). Several in the audience the night I went commented as they left that it was better than a lot of the shows they had paid to see.