22 January 2010, 40 Winks
Bedtime story nights… what a simple but great concept. And what a great evening. 🙂
The story nights are run at a boutique hotel called 40 Winks in Stepney Green which is designed and run by a designer, David Carter. About six months ago, he started these monthly nights. The dress code is strictly pjs. Everyone then crowds around and sits on cushions and sofas in the living room, as stories get told by actors and actresses. The night we went to was actually the first time they presented a full length play – Sherlock Holmes… the Last Act. It was really powerful and Llewellyn did a mighty fine job of acting.
Due to Watson’s death, Holmes comes out of retirement and returns to 221b Baker Street, where he solves his final case. He reminisces about the times they have spent together, the cases they have solved. As the evening unfolds you see the dark side of Sherlock come out. His dark childhood, deaths he’ s seen, why he never found a woman, the thoughts that flow through his mind, his inability to sit passively…. you start sensing how vulnerable Holmes is. Which is far beyond the incredible detective that I know him to be and what he is usually referenced as.
Roger Llewellyn played Sherlock Holmes brilliantly. Though that might not be a legit thing to say since I don’t know much about Sherlock – my only recent reference is Robert Downey Jnr’s interpretation heh – so I don’t know how true it is to his character. Yes, the text was really solid, but even more, the interpretation was outstanding. Llewellyn played over ten characters in an impressive manner… weaving seamlessly in and out of the different roles, completely commanding the stage.
It was the smallest space he has ever played in apparently and the smallest audience he’s ever had: 40 people (he usually plays to houses of 1000’s and this show was sold out at the Fringe last year). But that’s what made the night special. It was really intimate and cosy (though butt-flattening heh). And although there is no direct interaction with the audience, the fact that you are so up close to the action (he literally was acting at our feet) made you feel active, feel like part of the set. Didn’t feel like a passive attendee at all.
The atmosphere was really special. As we all walked down the stairs from the bedrooms up top to the kitchen down in the basement in our pjs to get drinks, everyone was a bit giddy. Hehe didn’t know what to do with myself. It was really nice though, as because it was a new experience for all, everyone was chattier than usual. You don’t usually chat to strangers when you go see plays in theatres huh.
So yes, highly recommended! Apparently these story nights were recently in Sunday Times Travel Magazine as one of 14 Most Amazing Things to Do in the World. The hotel itself is also beautifully decorated. Some eccentric things, but not surprisingly, as David Carter is quite an eccentric person himself!
I think the most challenging thing about going to this story night though… was digging through my closet to find pjs. Haven’t worn proper pjs in ages! Maybe it’s time to invest in some.