Three more Sleepless Nights

DOI: 10.5040/9781784602345.40000118
Scenes: 3. Roles: Male (2) , Female (2) , Neutral (0)

Caryl Churchill's Three More Sleepless Nights is a play about romantic relationships turning sour. It was first staged at the Soho Poly, London, on 9 June 1980.

The play is structured as a triptych of three short scenes, in each of which a couple are in bed. In the first, Margaret and Frank are bickering viciously. Margaret believes Frank is continuing an affair that he says is over, and Frank accuses her of flirting with his best friend; meanwhile their child’s cries of anguish go unattended. In the second scene, Pete and Dawn can barely communicate; as Pete recounts in detail the plot of a film he's seen, Dawn cuts her wrist. In the third scene, Margaret is now with Pete; they both think they've changed, freeing themselves from the negative rituals of their last relationships, but as the scene progresses they begin to slip back into those habits all too easily.

The play makes use of overlapping dialogue, marked in the text with a slash to indicate the cue for the next speaker. Churchill would go on to use this innovative technique in many of her later plays, perhaps most memorably in the opening scene of Top Girls, which premiered in 1982.

The premiere at Soho Poly was directed by Les Waters, with Jan Chappell as Margaret, Fred Pearson as Frank, Kevin McNally as Pete and Harriet Walter as Dawn.

The play was revived at the National Theatre, London, in 2009 in a production directed by Gareth Machin.

From Caryl Churchill: Shorts


Nick Hern Books

Caryl Churchill

ISBN: 9781854590855

Series: NHB Modern Plays

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