By Leia Squillace
From the jump, Patric Madden and Roxane Revon’s adaptation of the nineteenth‑century drama, “Lorenzaccio,” screams that it has something to say. “In Order to Sleep Peacefully” begins with pulsating pre‑show music and bold costuming ‑ a pleather breastplate atop form‑fitting black, with the pop of a bright red lip ‑ as if to say, “get ready to party!” But what is found beneath the surface is a more tender take on the little‑known Romantic tragedy. Inventively and cleanly directed by Roxane Revon, the world of the play feels tangible, despite the entirely bare stage. As Mr. Madden precisely gestures to imagined furniture in the room or whips a black skirt over his shoulders to transform it into a cloak, the world of Florence constructs itself before our eyes.
For the majority of the performance, “In Order to Sleep Peacefully” plays as a pep talk. The protagonist, referred to by a slew of riffs off the name Lorenzaccio, is making preparations to murder the corrupt King Alexander de’ Medici. The confrontation, which he has clearly planned and visualized countless times, becomes a script of sorts, rehearsed cyclically throughout the play. “He will knock on the door. And I will let him in” is repeated as a prelude, each time incorporating the latest nuance or detail just revealed. While becoming tiresome by the fourth repetition of the plan, Lorenzo’s intention is made clear: he leans on this rote repetition of steps as a crutch to coax himself through carrying out his plan. Each iteration ends with “I’ll do it, and it’ll be done.”
Without the context of his intended target’s tyranny, the play risks making the audience skeptical ‑ are we really to root for a man who is clinically preparing to commit murder? Mr. Madden’s suggestively Trumpian portrayal of Alexander de’ Medici effectively served its purpose of explaining Lorenzo’s compulsion toward this act to a predominantly liberal audience. Yet, what truly redeems the piece is Mr. Madden’s skillful portrayal of Lorenzo’s internal conflict. Although he obsessively predicts each element of the moments leading up to the murder, he is unable to speak to any details of the murder itself. Mr. Madden does not allow us to believe for a second that this will be an easy task.
At its most gripping, the piece becomes a vehicle for Lorenzo’s musings about execution ‑ both in the sense of carrying out ideas and plans, as well as carrying out a death sentence. He implicates the audience early on, stating, “I have an hour ‑ we, we have an hour…” before the murder is set to take place. In doing so, he pulls us along with him on this journey, and forces us to weigh the costs of murdering one to liberate many.
The play entreats us to the perhaps more relatable question of what is the greater sin: knowing one should act and choosing not to, or taking action knowing full well the collateral of that choice? Lorenzo’s muscling through these questions appears so taxing that one is left wondering if this quandary will haunt Lorenzo more than the memory of murder.
“In Order to Sleep Peacefully”
An Adaptation of “Lorenzaccio” by Alfred de Musset
adapted by Roxane Revon and Patric Madden
Performed by Patric Madden
Directed by Roxane Revon
November 2 and 17 at 4 PM
Photo credit: courtesy of the production
2019 United Solo Theater Festival
410 West 42nd Street
New York City
Follow us on Facebook
LEIA SQUILLACE is a director, devised theatre artist, and arts engagement administrator. Leia has developed new plays such as “GOOD KIDS” (Naomi Iizuka), “THE TRAIN” (Irene L. Pynn), and the Kennedy Center National Undergraduate Playwriting Award winner, “FAIR” (Karly Thomas). Most recently, Leia co‑developed a one‑woman show, “I KILLED THE COW,” which is currently touring nationally.