SLEEPOVER review: In a League of Their Own
***** 5 STARS
From the opening musical score I knew this play would be nothing short of a fun time. And my intuition was correct. SLEEPOVER (written by Laura Chan) documents twelve hours between four teenagers on the last night of being year 13 students. The peak of curiosity for many teens as they are on the cusp of finding out what their early 20s has to offer them outside of the school setting. These curious thoughts are stored in a suspicious looking Pandora's Box that serve as discussion topics for the teens. Through songs and some interesting dance moves, Jenny (played by Laura Chan), Anita (played by Regina Agard-Brathwaite), Nina (played by Michelle Zhang) and Ruth (played by Mia Grant) dive into topics ranging from monogamy to masturbation, to pegging and dating preferences! Within these twelve hours, every taboo thought regarding bodies and sex, that has crossed their minds is shared. Brought to you from the same production company CUMTS (Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society) behind the West-End success SIX, SLEEPOVER is a masterpiece of a musical in a league completely of its own.
Described as a light-hearted, funny, sex musical with a focus on POC experiences, SLEEPOVER is more than that. A universal play that is not only highly relatable, but it represents a journey of subject matters we all at some point fantasise about or are curious to dip our toes into. On first thought whilst watching SLEEPOVER, I thought "this is Gen-Z encapsulated in a musical" however towards the end I realised just how much me, at 28 years old, relate to every topic addressed on stage. My younger self would have cried out for such a powerful representation on stage of a group of teenagers from different parts of the diaspora discussing the things I was too afraid to say out loud.
Set to a musical score that *needs* to be on all streaming platforms, like yesterday, the humour is top class. The audience were in fits of hysterics from start to finish with many strangers vibing together throughout the entire performance as if they had known each other for years. The stage presence of all actors was magnetic, I felt on a high after leaving the show. I felt seen and heard from a part of me that I didn't even realise was yearning for that. 18 year old Maygan was a mess who would have benefitted from seeing a coming-of-age tale play out in such a delightfully crude way. The direction (Mia Urwin) is nasty, and not grotesque nasty, but Christina Aguilera's Dirrty, type of nasty. SLEEPOVER unabashedly shows us how universal the coming-of-age experience can be and how natural it is to be inquisitive about the things you're taught to hide or be ashamed of.
There is a strong POC focus on the musical, which I highly appreciated. As we all well know representation matters, but positive representation that normalises and universalises the adolescent experience is what is needed more than anything right now. From my experience growing up, representations of the 'coming of age' trope have been shrouded in whiteness and lack diversity. Many people write from their own experiences but diversity matters and shows like SLEEPOVER deserve to be platformed and touring on stages everywhere. In addition to that, the entire creative team are made up of female/non-binary students, another encouraging feature that adds something so satisfying and heartfelt to the musical.
Until now, I was not familiar with writer Chan or Urwin's work however SLEEPOVER has introduced me to a plethora of new talent and I cannot wait to see what they do next. Please please universe, grant SLEEPOVER a successful West-End transfer and make it so that all schools bring their students to see this show. I hope it reaches the success it so rightfully deserves.
Laura Chan (Jenny)
Regina Agard-Brathwaite (Anita)
Michelle Zhang (Nina)
Mia Grant (Ruth)
Mia Urwin (Director)
Elaina Ough (Producer)
Tungsten Tang (Lighting Designer)
Mia Grant (Assistant Director)
Shreya Ganesh Kumar (Associate Director)