The Wake-Up Call

Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

Neil Cooper

Three stars

Bedtime stories are clearly on Colin McGuire’s mind in his new fifty-minute meditation on what goes on between the sheets once we lay down our weary heads. With a bed already made up for a lifetime of duvet days and nights, an ambient soundscape sets a soporific tone beneath after-hours projections of starry skies. McGuire wanders on sporting dressing gown and PJs, looking like a champion boxer about to square up to every demon that has ever kept him awake from his slumber.

Over a cycle of narrative poems linked as loosely as a dream, McGuire contemplates some of the world’s bigger nightmares that poke away at lights-out neuroses, making the prospect of a peacefully uninterrupted eight hours as unlikely as everything turning sunny side up the morning.

With directorial input from fellow poet Jenny Lindsay, McGuire’s linguistic largesse carries him through some big ideas which he tackles with the relish one would expect from such a seasoned veteran of the performance poetry circuit. The visual moments inbetween each section too are grabbed hold of with a muscularity that complements the vigour of the words.

As engaging and funny as McGuire’s presence and delivery is, for The Wake-Up Call to fully engage as a piece of theatre it might be an idea to ditch the various sheets of A4 he reads from throughout. Doing it from memory would allow his impressively hyperactive imagination to be unleashed into unfettered life without anything to get in its way. At the moment, the show’s flashes of verbal brilliance are only fully liberated when the page is left behind. What remains is a powerful and fresh appraisal of the land of nod which, as it beds itself in, fitfully brings to life the murky underworld lurking beneath.