Lou’s bourbon-fueled review: Drink rocks my brain

Sleep Rock Thy Brain. Photo courtesy Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Sleep Rock Thy Brain. Photo courtesy Actors Theatre of Louisville.

As a rule, I don’t drink before or after seeing a play.

Not really as a rule, but more like as a practice.

I’ve got many reasons, not the least of which is that a) I have to be aware of what I’m watching in order to process it coherently and b) I usually have to drive myself home.

But this is Louisville and my car is in the parking garage until Sunday and bourbon is flowing and I figured in the interest of experimental journalism (as Engine 31 is supposed to be), I would attend the 11 p.m. performance of Sleep Rock They Brain in a stupor, provided that my journalistic brother Chris Arnott promised that he wouldn’t let me go back to my room to actually sleep until I have this thing written.

Please know that I wouldn’t have done this if it were All My Sons or The Diary of Anne Frank or my son’s 5th grade recital. I swear.

Sleep is off-site, away from Actors Theatre of Louisville, and requires a ride in a trolley to what I think is an elementary school. At least the chairs are grown-up size, which is good and helpful.

I’m writing this as the lights are going down. So I should stop. I usually don’t trust my cell phone so sometimes, before a show, I take out the batteries. Some apprentice intern company folks are introducing the show, smiling very broadly and wearing jeans.

Here are my notes.

Woman in scrubs. Three main harnesses. Wonder how many attendees will fall asleep. Wonder if I will be one of them. The sound has to come through the fog (I don’t know if that’s a line from the show or an observation). A guy claims he hasn’t slept in 5 months and 11 days. There’s a guy with an elephant head and people are flying. My fingers feel swollen.

Shadows of the flying performers are as interesting as the flying performers themselves. Too many bright attractive twentysomethings for me to keep track of. This is still the first of the three plays, I think. The last late, late show I attended was a midnight production of Hair at PurdueUniversity a few years’ back. It worked. By the end, I felt like I was doing some serious hallucinogens. One of the characters is singing a lullaby. I think I missed something. Maybe I won’t wear these sneakers tomorrow.

Not sure if it’s now another play or an intermezzo. People are upside down. I have to stop touching my face. The blackout seems an appropriate time to close my eyes. I open them mid-scene and people are talking about koala tea. I don’t know if they are being serious but now they seem to be playing themselves or people like themselves and they are talking about a play and harnessing and flying and I wonder if they have the rights to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” because they sure are singing it, plus another space-related song that if I think about it I’ll Google later. I’m watching people have fun but I’m not having much of it myself but that could be because I feel like I’m only seeing every third minute. One actress has some crazy tights on. I want to copy the notes of the woman next to me. Now someone falls but not a real fall but in the play there’s been an accident and people are getting all Into the Woods blamey on the guy who was holding the rope. Now people are applauding. Is it over?

No, more people are getting harnessed like Spider-Man without the lame songs. Now there are astronauts. Their walk up the wall to their capsule is the coolest thing in the show so far. But then I forget to keep taking notes so I’ll just say that more astronaut stuff happened and I made it down the aisle and the trolley seemed to go out of its way getting back to the theater but I think that had to do with not wanting to make a U-turn and we’ve got peanut butter and bread in the room but no knife so there’s this plastic No Smoking signage thing on the desk made of credit-card like material and that will do just fine.

Good night. Sweet dreams.



  1. This is not a review, more like a stream of unconsciousness. Don’t drink and stay awake next time, Lou. There was interesting writing, wonderful direction, a talented troupe and a lot of laughs to be had if you’re not deep in your cups.

    • Henry: You’ll find plenty of commentary about the show here from a variety of writers. More being added next week when the full engine crew arrives. Thanks for reading and please keep commenting.

  2. Although I am a fan of creative journalism, this feels to me as though it crosses the point where artistry, wordsmithing, and reportage meet. I’m glad that in your other report you mentioned that the show was ‘worth staying up for,’ but you do not seem to have enjoyed it as there seem to be more side comments than there are complete reactions to plot, theme, or any other Aristotelian element. I think that it would be very interesting to repeat this, but as a true experiment, with a control (seeing the show sober) and an experiment (seeing the show inebriated). Consequently, giving the show in question a respectable review and an interesting and insightful review/report.

%d bloggers like this: