The Sleeper at the Space
The Sleeper – Or What Happens When You Ask Them To Leave, is a three-character play written and directed by Henry C Krempels, aiming to dispel the myths and misconceptions of the European refugee crisis and provide a voice to those “who struggle to be heard”.
Karina (Michelle Fahrenheim) is travelling alone in a train cart – somewhere between Paris and Milan – when she comes across Amena (Sarah Agha), a refugee escaping the war in Aleppo, Syria. After reporting the occurrence to chief train conductor George (Joshua Jacob), the protagonist faces a struggle of conscience: she must do the right thing according to the law, as well as doing right by the young woman. Karina is adamant that she will help Amena in any way possible, though George stands in her way, determined to do as he is told.
The piece trundles along much like the carriage in which it is set, however it becomes a little more interesting when the drama is turned on its head, with Amena suddenly breaking character – frustrated at the direction the show is headed – and beginning to speak candidly to the production’s staff, her fellow actors and the audience. The actress is displeased that, again, we have the “white saviour” attempting to help a refugee, denying the countless number of people with their own stories to tell an individual voice. She states that “a play is not going to solve the refugee crisis”, questioning if it isn’t just voyeuristic – after which the cast return to character.
Ironically though, The Sleeper doesn’t achieve what it strives for with this break, as Amena becomes another generic voice, her narrative lacking depth. Krempels could have improved his play with a detailed insight and analysis into her background – and further character development with less repetition – but the production fails to capture the pathos of a crisis that should never be forgotten, nor rendered monotonous when interpreted.
The Sleeper is at the Space from 3rd until 14th April 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for The Sleeper here: