Written for The Stage
The Dreamer Examines His Pillow looks to interrogate how we deal with love. Shot through with a dark humour it is entertaining but John Patrick Shanley too often eschews the romcoms for which he is better known instead looking to ape Pinter or Mamet in a piece full of abstract soliloquies.
Set in the Bronx in the 1980s, the bleak outlook that each character faces is uncomfortably close to our own in this modern day recession. Tommy is a layabout, tormented by his desire to be a nice guy and sleep around. His ex, Donna, has tried to suppress her love for him but realises she can’t. Her dad, recognising himself in Tommy, just wants a happy ending and is prepared to use his fists to get it.
Onto this narrative Shanley places several strange monologues that probe ideas of both sexual and familial love. Interspersed between faster paced and amusingly direct dialogue, this structure makes for a rather disjointed evening – a surreal set up that is neither completely expressionistic nor naturalistic.
Stuck between two weak men, Donna is the strongest character of the three and the linchpin of this semi-incestuous triangle. A forthright Stacie Bono does a powerful job of conveying Donna’s conflicting wants and desires.
Runs until 16 February. For more information go here