Cordoba, may 2013

whatever gets you through the night

Claire Wood
Aug 30, 2013 · 3 min read

The last weekend of that smorgasbord of cultural pursuits; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

And a show — a piece of theatre really — but all mixed up with music making definitions greyer — called Whatever Gets You Through The Night.

Great title, huh?

It made my wish list because I love one of the writers, a Mr David Grieg, with an admiring, enduring passion. He has the kind of imagination, the love for human people’s foibles, that I aspire to convey in writing.

The other author and lady director, Cora Bissett, is up to the sort of stuff that might just convince people that theatre isn’t solely something that has to be consumed under a proscenium arch. This was a case in point.

An “untheatrical” venue: a concert hall.

A promise of an “award-winning, critically acclaimed music and theatre spectacular”.

I expected to be captivated by the production. A worry in itself. As an audience that wishes to like you is by far the easiest to disappoint. But when one of the boys started shimmying up the wall to the ceiling, my head was won.

I didn’t expect to lose my heart.

Historically, foolishly, I’ve always been jealous of friends of mine that don’t sleep. One friend in particular always appears to be eight steps ahead of everyone else as he sleeps for one weekend in ten or twelve maybe. That’s two days out of ten to twelve weeks of days of sleep. Not so much then.

He still seems to manage to walk about, be nice to people, dash about the world doing a job that must require some heavy duty thinking and fit in fun stuff round the edges. I’ve only seen him lose his temper when his cast of the moment are being hopeless. So I’ve always presumed that insomnia was god’s way (nature’s way) of making the deserving more productive.


Insomnia is an unmitigated misery.

Playwright Sarah Kane did it best, of the playwrights I know at any rate. Her seductively appalling love letter to insomnia, 4:48 Psychosis, is a window into its cockroach-crawling awfulness.

I am jealous of my sleeping lover and covet his induced unconsciousness

When he wakes he will envy my sleepless night of thought and speech unslurred by medication

Whatever Gets You Through The Night is an entirely different animal. A mostly light-hearted look at what Scotland gets up to between the witching hour and 4am.Featuring some gorgeous dialogue, a bundle of fun and frisky music, a couple of aerial artistes that entirely tickled my already over-stimulated fancy, a delicious first date via Skype. And the odd moment of hold your breath bite your lip and try not to sob out loud piercingly poignant heartbreak.

A tiny little sequence somewhere in the middle of the show. One man. His accoustic guitar. Some 4am photographs of fields and hedges and roads and the sun coming up. And captions. Including

4am. The thin space between words.

And that, to me, summed up the problem with insomnia. It’s 4am. The world outside is dark. Lone seagull silent. You don’t much feel like doing anything apart from being asleep. The only thing that might make it marginally more tolerable is a burying of your head in your long-time lover’s somnolent neck.But your bed is bare.

4am insomnia.

Midway through the critically acclaimed music and theatre spectacular, a parade of brass instrument players burst in from the back of the Queen’s Hall to deliver a resoundingly buoyant ode to chips and cheese, accompanied deliriously by the young and boisterous cast.

Chips and cheese. A Scottish staple. Saviour of many a too long too drunk night out.

If only ‘twere a cure.

    Claire Wood

    Written by

    Professionally curious.