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BWW Review: SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER at Round House Theatre

Part of the Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration & Influence Play Festival

Round House Theatre's The Work of Adrienne Kennedy: Inspiration & Influence Play Festival continues on celebrating Kennedy's work with "Sleep Deprivation Chamber," produced in association with McCarter Theatre Center and in partnership with the Department of Theatre Arts at Howard University. Adrienne Kennedy co-wrote "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" with her son, Adam P. Kennedy. The play focuses on writer Suzanne Alexander (Kim James Bey) who is desperately advocating to get her son, Teddy (Deimoni Brewington), acquitted of "assault" charges against Officer Holzer (Rex Daugherty). Teddy had been beaten and dragged in the mud by Officer Holzer in front of his father, David Alexander (Craig Wallace), and brother in the driveway of his own home. As Teddy's case is being taken to court, Suzanne continues to fight her justice for her son. Round House Theatre's "Sleep Deprivation Chamber," directed by Raymond O. Caldwell, is a tale of injustice, which echoes stories of police brutality in the news, all wrapped in dreamy surrealism.

BWW Review: SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER at Round House Theatre
Deimoni Brewington (Teddy Alexander) and Rex Daugherty (Officer Holzer) in SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER. Courtesy of Round House Theatre.

The news often doesn't show what the family and victim go through in the wake of such devastation, but this play does. It's anxiety-inducing and gut wrenching to be witness to Teddy's screams, the questioning of Teddy and David, and Suzanne's constant advocacy to help her son. Deimoni Brewington and Kim James Bey's performances are outstanding. You can feel the anxiety and trauma in Brewington's voice as Teddy struggles to deal with what has happened to him. Bey's Suzanne is a powerhouse matriarch who is determined to get officials to realize the gravity of her son's case.

BWW Review: SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER at Round House Theatre
Kim James Bey (Suzanne Alexander) in SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER. Courtesy of Round House Theatre

While this play is grounded in the reality of the Alexander family's struggles, there are interludes of dream scenes mixed with this realism. The two scenes that stand out in particular involve Suzanne's interactions with Uncle March and her father. Teddy's Uncle March (Marty Austin Lamar), a social justice activist, has a conversation with Suzanne about the coming of "great storms." In another, Suzanne recalls having a dream about her father discussing how they can get justice for their children with NAACP members in a cabin. Even though these dream scenes are labeled in the production, the cast does a phenomenal job of not only taking the audience into this dream state, but also bringing them back to reality.

In "Sleep Deprivation Chamber," what stands out the most technically is the video editing. The video edits, by Joshua Land and MindInMotion, rapidly cut between scenes. These sharp and quick transitions create a dream-like state.

Round House Theatre's "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" is a must-see play as it is a story which needs to be told.

Running Time: 90 minutes without an intermission

Round House Theatre's SLEEP DEPRIVATION CHAMBER streams on demand through February 21, 2021. Tickets can be purchased here.

 


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