The Dreamer Examines his Pillow

A try-hard play that aches with effort and drowns itself in a swamp of schoolboy metaphor, 'The Dreamer Examines His Pillow' is a slightly embarrassing early work by John Patrick Shanley, given its UK premiere in a production that's classier than it really deserves.

Tommy and Donna are trapped in a viciously passionate love affair, one replete with a mutual masochism that has dragged them both to the brink. Now Tommy is screwing Donna's 16-year-old sister; and she visits their father, a roaring alcoholic ex-artist, to get his perspective on love, sex and the universe. Mistakes of the past seem sure to be repeated, and Donna beats her breast in a futile attempt to break the cycle.

Anil Douglas directs a strong cast and directs it well, with Jason Will bringing a booming ferocity to Donna's father. The set, sound and lighting are all superbly realised. Unfortunately they can't salvage a play that's at once cripplingly pretentious and as dull as ditchwater. It's hard to believe the writer of this self-satisfied muddle went on to write 'Congo' and 'We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story' let alone 'Doubt: A Parable'.

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