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A CurtainUp London London Review
I'd Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole

"Watching Athletico Madrid teaches you nihilist, stoical philosophy. " — Steffan Rhodri
I'd Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole
Steffan Rhodri and the pigs (Photo: Ikinyum)
In a bizarre one man play, Steffan Rhodri opens in a cube, a bed where he cannot sleep. The cube is suspended on the wall and can pivot up and down, spinning with its occupant being slung around. The effect is a nightmare as the noises of the street, trains, traffic, the screeching of brakes and car horns disturb. On waking he opens a door at the rear and brings in two black and white spotted piglets. They have too many spots to be Gloucester Old Spots and they are captivating, snorting and squealing when picked up.

He calls the piggies his sons, aged 11 and six but I've got news for him, one of those piggies is a girl but then they aren't human children either. We're told he's hit a crisis point in his life and is going to blow his life savings of 5000 Euros on a trip to Madrid with his boys. His plan is to break into the Prada so they can be there alone and look at Goya's black paintings. But before that he will drink whisky, go to a brothel and hire a German philosopher for an hour. There is a snag. The boys would rather go to EuroDisney. So this is a play about parental ambition at odds with society and the material demands of his sons. Except that a lack of sleep, Spanish unemployment levels and stress may have tipped him over the edge.

The piggies are exactly the right mix of shade and light to have come out of one of Goya's black paintings themselves. We all groan when the man starts to cook bacon in a saucepan but the piggies, unaware of the source of bacon are less disturbed than the audience. They hunker together in a corner of the stage, sometimes sliding on the shiny white tiled floor as they scamper together rooting for the remains of the pig food used to get them to move across the stage. I'm not sure that this performance is exactly kind to the pigs with the bright lights and all that shouting but the theatre's director assured us that the squealing when they were picked up is a normal pig reaction and not one indicating discomfort or pain.

Steffan Rhodri's delivery is to shout at us as his anger at his situation dominates. He tells us that he persuaded the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk to fly to Madrid for a large fee and that the elder boy conversed with the philosopher in German but didn't they just talk about football? While most of the 50 minutes of dialogue went way over my head in trying to ascertain the purpose and direction of this play, I was exceedingly diverted by the pigs, without whom this would have been a tedious hour.

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I'd Rather Goya Robbed Me of My Sleep Than Some Other Arsehole
Written by Rodrigo Garcia
Directed by Jude Christian

Starring: Steffan Rhodri
Designed by Fly Davis
Sound: Adrienne Quartly
Lighting: Joshua Pharo
Running time: 50 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 020 7229 0706
Booking at The Gate Theatre to 29th March 2014
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 10th March 2014 performance at the Gate Theatre, 11 Pembridge Road, London W11 3HQ (Tube: Notting Hill Gate)

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