Insomnia is a new musical comedy by Charles Bloom that follows its protagonist, Brad, through a sleepless night battling stream-of-consciousness thoughts. It has incredible moments, a great cast, never manages to be soporific (excuse the bad pun), but overall fails to shape up to much.
There isn’t exactly a plot to the show; basically Brad cannot sleep and people in his life pay him a visit. Some of the issues he is dealing with include his relationship with his father; a possible relationship he may or may not start with Dan, a guy he met at a museum; and a kid he might have with his lesbian best friend. Throughout the show the other characters pop up randomly. The score is mostly sung-through, but there are patches of dialog here and there.
There is a lot of good material; there are many funny lines and some cute musical theatre references. The score is mostly interesting and sophisticated, although it meanders a bit, and the recitative sections lack direction and focus. There are some incredible numbers, but unfortunately not all of the score is consistently as well crafted as them. The highlights are the sweet "An Ordinary Guy," the funny "The Chat" (which is also quite raunchy at times), and the brilliant, poignant, "What If…?". Although the rhymes are all perfect and some of the rhyme schemes are just beautifully and cleverly constructed, a lot of the lyrics lack substance and direction and sometimes have extra rhymes for the sake of rhyme that add nothing to the song.
The plot (and lack of it) is a tad bewildering. There is not enough clarification or differentiation between reality and conjured-up thoughts. For instance, there are scenes that seem to have taken place in the past, ones that never actually take place, and ones that are possibly taking place in real time. The ending, also, was fairly confusing; and there was no clear-cut epiphany or change or character growth. Finally, the show is too long for its lack of substance.
The cast was consistently, undeniably, and terrifically talented. In particular, Richard Todd Adams easily carried the show as Brad; his voice was strong; his acting nuanced. Another standout was Eric Millegan, who was hilarious as the unborn son, Nick, and a few other roles. He also possessed a beautiful tenor that was a pleasure to hear. Finally, Christopher Sloan charmed the audience with his rendition of "An Ordinary Guy".
Allison Bergman's direction was adequate; the staging made good use of the small stage. The score was accompanied by two keyboards -- one set up as a piano, the other playing many other synthesized instruments; the combination added a great timbral texture to the show. Finally, the cartoony set by Steven Capone provided a cute backdrop for the show.
Thus, for all its good parts, the sum is lower than it could be. But maybe with some trimming, tightening, clarification, and perfecting, Insomnia will return with improvements; it is certainly not a show to put to rest.
Return to Volume Eleven, Number Three Index
Return to Volume Eleven Index
Return to Home Page
Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh