Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep


“Treat yourself to a night in the theatre that showcases the best of the art of acting.” 

London Living Large


“It was refreshing to see older characters portrayed in a multi-faceted way that explores existentialism and humanity rather than stereotyping and defining them by their age.”

North West End


“Thanks to the smart and skilful direction from Mike Alfreds, insomnia feels real and present in the room with us.” 

Everything Theatre

A new play devised by Mike Alfreds, Sonja Linden and the company

Published by Nick Hern Books (forthcoming 2023)

Five insomniacs try to make it through the night. 

From dusk to dawn, they struggle with a crisis in their lives which they must resolve by morning. 

Increasingly conscious of their shortening futures and lengthening pasts, they fill their nights with distracting activities, desperate sleep techniques, evaluations of their lives, delusions, fears, panics and utter foolishness as they prepare to face the day.

Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep was developed over a two-year period through a series of workshops with the actors. The play was devised and written by the Company for ViSiBLE, receiving a sold-out run at Southwark Playhouse in Autumn 2022. Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep follows Who Do We Think We Are? and Roundelay, two of ViSiBLE’s other successful shows at Southwark Playhouse offering audiences insights into the experience of later life.

Recommended for ages 12+.

Photographs by Liam Bessell. Film by Nicholas Sargeant. Vox Pop by David Young. 

WATCH the play filmed @ Southwark Playhouse for free. Please email if you have trouble playing it.

'The body clock and sleep' Start the Week, BBC Radio 4

Russell Foster, Sonja Linden and Ros Holmes discuss circadian rhythms and a good night’s sleep, with Tom Sutcliffe

Post-show discussions @ Southwark Playhouse 2022

Post-show: Mike Alfreds and Assistant Director Max Harrison

Post-show: Sonja Linden with Marina Benjamin on her memoir Insomnia 

SleepTalk Podcast with Sonja Linden.

Post-show: Professor Derk-Jan Dijk on “Why Can’t We Sleep When We Get Older?”

Audience feedback

"I thought it was really beautiful, the intimacy of it and that sharing of a life that has been emboldened by the night"

ViSiBLE aims to reach across generational divides and we are always particularly gratified by the positive feedback we get from young people to our shows.

Here are some examples for Five Characters:

“It made we weep.”

“I’m a drama student and I have to say that is the best acting I have seen in my whole life.”

“As a young person I appreciated the depth of experience of these old characters and it was interesting how many of their memories were of childhood and those of the moments that linger and that you keep coming back to. Made me wonder what moments in my life I will keep coming back to both positive and and the negatives too.”

“I absolutely adored the play. I’ve not seen any of Mike Alfreds work before and my friend had told me beforehand that he was kind of a sublime director and immediately when I walked into the theatre space it reminded me of Derek Jarman –  it set the tone for the rest of the play, this meditative space and these people musing over their lives and memories,  what they done wrong and right.”

“I found it really relatable and deeply moving I’ve not seen a play that actually depicts people of that age ever,  it’s so rare to see people who are older talking about their sex lives and things like that. Yes I found it deeply moving.”

More feedback from the press

“An unusual, beautifully crafted piece of theatre. Exquisitely done and the performances make it absolutely worth seeing.” Fairy Powered Productions

“The storytelling is undeniably compelling, and the performances are top notch.” Fairy Powered Productions

“It is so refreshing to see mature actors taking ‘centre stage.’ Each life is drawn out with such feeling and heart that you  develop a strong empathy with them.” Theatre News

“The cast are a delight to listen to and are highly convincing as their respective characters….a great example of storytelling” London Theatre News

Thank you

Five Characters in Search of a Good Night’s Sleep is kindly supported by the Diorama Arts Centre, Regents Place, Arts Council England, Sleepstation an online sleep improvement programme (available on the NHS and privately) as well as the following sleep experts:

Dr Neil Stanley, Author of How to Sleep WellDr Hugh Selsick, consultant in sleep medicine and psychiatry, Royal London Hospital for integrated medicine; and Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Sleep Research Centre, University of Surrey. 

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