ORLANDO – Playwright Michael W. Freeman’s eerie thriller “Murder Sleep”, a variation of Shakespeare’s classic (and bloody) drama “Macbeth”, has won a place in the 2016 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. The play will be produced by the Orlando-based company Freeline Productions.
The 25th annual Orlando Fringe runs May 18-30 2016, at several venues, including the Lowndes Shakespeare Center, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, The Venue, and the Orlando Museum of Art. To learn more, contact the Fringe producer, Michael Marinaccio, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the executive director, George Wallace, at email@example.com.
“Murder Sleep” is an original play set in an aging hotel in Fort Lauderdale.
After two years struggling to find work in a bad economy, R.T. Robeson gets a break and lands a dream job. His new employer even puts him up in a hotel for two weeks of training.
But the nondescript R.T. makes one error in judgment: he decides to bring along a young friend, Ryan, who uses the two weeks to get high on Ecstasy and spend his days looking for alluring women at the pleasure palace’s pool. But Ryan doesn’t sleep at night, and he makes it nearly impossible for R.T. to, either, putting his new job at risk.
The situation gets even more bizarre when Ryan meets the drop-dead gorgeous Francesca at the hotel’s bar and invites her back to the room while the increasingly neurotic R.T. is at work. Francesca makes a strong impression on Ryan – perhaps too strong, since her motives appear to go well beyond orgies in bed. Francesca is obsessed with a rich, older gentleman staying at the hotel who had mistreated her – and she seems intent on motivating Ryan’s Alpha Male side to help her enact revenge. The more Francesca talks, the more she appears to envision a hideously blood revenge. Is Ryan likely to succumb to her naked hostility?
And yet …. is any of this really happening? Do the characters have an impaired sense of reality, or a collapsing depth perception? What exactly is going on in the room within that historic hotel in Fort Lauderdale, where a wet spot mysteriously reappears on the desk, and where shadowy figures move through the room in the pitch darkness of night?
And by the end, is the audience exposed as more than simply voyeurs to the macabre happenings?
Welcome to “Murder Sleep” … a play likely to stab brutally at you in your dreams long after you’ve seen it.
As the author notes, there are some biographical elements to an otherwise fictional piece.
“In July 2013, I did in fact find myself in a hotel near Fort Lauderdale, starting two weeks of training for a new job,” Freeman said. “I made the mistake of bringing along someone I was trying to help out as he went through a rocky time in his life. Unfortunately, it was my first introduction to the concept of ‘anger management,’ and it all turned out badly.”
But the incident did inspire the dark images in his mind that make up “Murder Sleep,” he added.
After several days nearing exhaustion, it finally took a horrific late night trip to the local emergency room to convince Freeman to get his “friend” out of the room.
“Every night until he got kicked out, he kept the television set on, making it almost impossible for me to sleep, even with earplugs,” Freeman said. “That was when I found out how blurry and disorienting the world is in the bright light of day — without sleep to carry you through. That’s when your dreams and your reality start to collide.”
“Murder Sleep” is a product of Freeline Productions, which also produces novels like “Bloody Rabbit”, the Freeline Media online news site, and theatrical productions.
Previous Freeline Productions shows have included “Hooked” at the May 2009 Fringe Festival, starring Orlando’s great actor and cabaret singer Kevin Kriegel, and the comedy “Copping a Craigie,” starring actor Michael Colavolpe, who recently completed an impressive run in the touring production of the Broadway hit “Mamma Mia!”, and is now starring as Sheriff Reynolds in the Gen Y production “Bat Boy: The Musical” at The Abbey.
Matthew J. Palm, the theater critic at The Orlando Sentinel, wrote of “Coppie a Craigie”: “It’s a show that (thankfully) doesn’t have much deeper to say than people are fundamentally lazy, shallow and greedy. And who could argue with that? Things get off to a slow start, but the laughs amp up as all the characters inevitably converge, British farce style, in a single apartment for the funny conclusion.”
Both “Hooked” and “Copping a Craigie” were directed by Orlando’s talented and famed director Laurel Clark, the executive director of the Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Shows on Orlando’s International Drive.
Contact Freeline Media at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..