Sweet Dreams @ Oran Mor
In a fairly ordinary bedroom, an exhausted bathroom salesman Peter (Greg Powrie) tries to sleep, until wife Maggie intervenes, wanting to talk about their struggling, childless ten-year marriage. Addressing the audience as though a focus group for their problems, Ron Butlin’s Sweet Dreams would be a worryingly clichéd mess were it not for the vibrant set (taps suspended in wire over the audience’s heads) and dialogue which crackles with life and heart. And swearing. Lots of lovely, fruity swearing.
Anita Vettesse, fresh from The Steamie, thankfully avoids playing concerned wife Maggie as harridan or doormat, instead building a sympathetic and likeable character who can’t even deal with a dripping tap, let alone the bigger stuff like redundancy, the constant interruptions from call centres or the couple's dormant sex life. The characters’ political tirades seem all-too-familiar, but are brilliantly rendered; and the smart script deals with the problems of working life bleeding into domestic life using advertising speak, which is adapted into poetry (Butlin is Edinburgh’s Poet Laureat after all), and addresses the emasculation of men through downsizing and bringing in younger members of staff, turning Peter into a narcoleptic drone. Peter’s alternative persona 'Drain Man' is a comedic highlight.
A satire with shades of Reggie Perrin and The Simpsons’ classic Mister Plow episode, there’s enough personality and wit to keep consistent laughs coming, but real bite too in the struggle to surf the constant sea of shit thrown the couple’s way. The creative use of swearing alone is worth the ticket price.