Fringe Festival Theatre Review: Insomnia

When you don’t sleep, who else wakes?

A chilling thought to begin with, especially as someone who goes through stages of being unable to sleep. I may not be an insomniac myself but due to my mental health issues it can sometimes be a side effect, and this show was just… brilliant.


On Tuesday the 10th of May, I went to see Insomnia at The Brunswick in Hove, this was the third in their round of six performances as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival. I was not disappointed.

Insomnia is a multi-sensory performance with queer characters and stories that go across universes and genres. There is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and reality. It is set in different time periods, different lives. There are four main stories that all entwine and overlap, yet all work as individual pieces that could be taken out and replaced with no impact on each other.

The show seemed a little slow to begin, though likely due to the need to lay the foundations. This only was felt personally for the first 15 minutes or so, after which time things began to move faster. Tyler was beside me and at one point was in tears, at the thought of one of our friends – one of the actors and organisers of the performance off stage – no longer living (which I will admit made me tear up a little too).

Once it got started I was trapped in the show. It was one thing after another, a real mash up that had me looking every which way. The stage was set out so the audience were in the centre, with the performances going on around you in different areas, marked clearly by tape on the floor (unfortunately my theatre background picked up on this but in no way did it detract from the performance, it is simply a necessity of the show).

The stories were amazing. I felt myself drawn into them, there was a non-binary character, actually played by a non-binary actor (I know! Amazing right?!), a bisexual character who pained for his love, there was a guy obsessed with technology who struggled with human interaction, and there was an artist who makes her work come alive. As people who write reviews, Tyler and I were given press packs after the show, with stories from each of the characters contained. These were a brilliant read (and the reason I hadn’t written my review until now), they gave further depth to the stories, showing you their motivations and explaining anything you didn’t understand before. It also contained an RPG game, which I thought was ingenious, and I’d like to give a go at some point. If you aren’t a member of the press though, don’t worry! You still get to walk away with one of the stories to read. If there is one character you felt particularly drawn to you can read about them after the show and learn more. The whole idea is great and I really enjoyed it.

The multi-sensory element worked really well, a mix of sounds, lighting, audio, and multi-media. Everything was timed perfectly. Speaking to our friend after they explained that the lighting had been set up in a way to evoke certain emotions, and that really came across.

Speaking of the multi-media, wow! They used a mix of acting in front of us and acting on camera to set the scene. Small clips with sound effects tied it all together, calling the characters in, speaking their minds. Another friend was in one of the clips, and he did a fantastic job, the character was great, and all of the actors were fantastic at their characterisation.

If you are someone who suffers from ill mental health too, this show is very relatable. There are representations of depression, and anxiety, there is talk of terminal illness, the works. It is so great to see in a show.

It was the first time I had watched something in the fringe (that wasn’t an internationally touring, high money making, show) and I was certainly not disappointed. Insomnia was a wonderful show, and I would totally go and see it again if I had the time/money.

Insomnia is a show by ZLS Theatre, held in the Cellar Bar at The Brunswick, 3 Holland Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 1JF. Fringe Venue 221. They have a further two shows (one tonight, at 11pm and one on Sunday at 8pm) and if you get the chance you should totally go and see them. To see the link to the Facebook event, click here, and to buy tickets, click here or go to the fringe stall at the Old Steine. You can also buy tickets on the door. Go see it!

The event photo from the Facebook page

In summary!
• Non-binary representation by a non-binary person
• Queer representation
• Immersive theatre
• Affordable theatre
• Multi-sensory

• The show is held downstairs and as such if you have difficulty with stairs it could pose an issue to get to
• I can’t afford to go and see it again!

My Overall Rating


5/5 stars!


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