CHOICE: Between the sheets

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The Independent Culture
The humble bed rarely makes more than a tangential appearance in world drama, but Arthur Smith's Live Bed Show is set to change all that. His comedy, which previews at the Garrick Theatre from Monday, places a bed in the centre of the stage and at the centre of the action.

This is not quite as risque as it might sound. Although the play is a girl-meets-boy story, sex is only one of the many activities the couple (Caroline Quentin and Paul Merton, left) engage in between the sheets. Smith sees himself as simply according this essential piece of furniture the attention it deserves in the dramatic canon. "Most of what is important in life you do in bed. Everything else is just filling in, really. You're born in it. You die in it. You make love in it. You eat toas t in it. You read the papers in it. You dream in it. You hide under it if the bomb falls..." Even though having a bed centre-stage throughout might seem wildly avant-garde, Smith reveals that this show is the offspring of a much more ambitious bed-based pr oject thathe dreamed up several years ago. "At the Edinburgh Festival, I wanted to do a show in which the whole audience was in bed, so I tried to organise having about 30 beds and putting something really dull on, like some East European dance, so the entire audience would go to sleep." The Live Bed Show was Smith's first play (he is now probably best known for An Evening with Gary Lineker, which he co-wrote with Chris England), and he feels it was strongly influenced by his experience as a stand-up comic. "There are a lot of monologues in it, and perhaps I wouldn't put in so many jokes if I was writing it now," he admits. "But then again, I always think a sparkling one-liner is a joy to behold."

`Live Bed Show' is at the Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (071-494 5085) from 30 Jan