Sleep at Your Own Risk by Matthew Ethan Davis
Reviewed by Robert Viagas
Cabaret and theatre artist Rick Skye plays a man whose nightly journeys to dreamland are full of terror and violence in the surprisingly comic solo show, Sleep at Your Own Risk.
His problem is that he sleepwalks. Did I say “sleepwalks”? I mean he sleep-sings, sleep-messes his apartment, sleep-relocates houseplants to his refrigerator, sleep-wanders the halls of his co-op, sleep-pees on computer equipment, sleep-chokes his lover Dan, and sometimes, in a terpsichorean mood, sleep-performs the choreography toWest Side Story.
Dan is endearingly patient with all this (including the choking) but urges his somnambulant sweetie that it may be time to get some professional help. The bulk of the play chronicles the resulting odyssey through the world of therapists and sleep specialists with wildly varying degrees of helpfulness and effectiveness. “Enchantingly,” he narrates at one point, “things get worse.
Skye, a winner of MAC and Bistro awards for his cabaret work, presents a high-strung, quaveringly nervous stage persona, characterized by persistently shaking his hands to illustrate his anecdotes. But he brings the his character’s chiaroscuro midnight misadventures to life, and vividly portrays how very much he loves Dan and wants to get better to save his relationship—and Dan’s life.
Sleep at Your Own Risk runs a brisk 50 minutes and treats a potentially serious affliction with gentle humor and a great deal of love.
Presented as part of the Queerly Festival 2019 during Pride Month, Sleep at Your Own Risk completed a limited run at the Kraine Theater in Manhattan’s East Village.