Before I Sleep, Old Co-op Building, Brighton
Eurydice, Maria, Young Vic, London
Macbeth, Globe, London

A haunting, dreamlike sequel to Chekhov's 'Cherry Orchard' takes us on a hell of a journey through time – but I won't spoil the surprise...

It's been one Hell of a week. That is to say, every new production leads us into the Underworld, starting with Before I Sleep at the Brighton Festival.

This eerie promenade show – devised by the fabulous immersive theatre company dreamthinkspeak – leaves you to roam around a dark maze of corridors and mouldering chambers in a vast, defunct department store (the former Co-op on Brighton's London Road).

Actually, if you're planning to see this, it's the surprise element that thrills – so read only the next paragraph to avoid a spoiler.

All you need know is that Before I Sleep is a peculiarly inspired sequel to The Cherry Orchard, haunted by the unquiet spirit of Firs. That's the senescent manservant who – at the end of Chekhov's turn-of-the-century play – is left behind, bewildered and dying, on Madame Ranyevskaya's landed estate. He embodies the old world facing oblivion as the Russian Revolution looms.

A fabulously wizened Firs materialises in the gloaming when you first knock to gain entry to the Co-op's back door. A hurricane lamp guttering under his hollow, bearded face, he murmurs deliriously in Russian and lies down on his deathbed, breath rasping.

Suddenly in a blaze of strip lighting – following Firs' staring eyes – you find yourself looking out, through glass walls, into an alternative universe. Pushing gleaming trolleys in a modern East European food emporium, unfriendly souls glare back at you from an aisle of refridgerated meals.

Jettisoned from there into darkness once more, you make out a miniature, snow-covered landscape at your feet. It stretches away into the distance. A winter wind moans and a tiny mansion – like an antique doll's house – twinkles in a wood. A winding path also leads you on through this wilderness, past a glowing mini-mart, with a corpse, the size of your little finger, sprawled on its threshold.

From here, you embark on a journey through a dreamlike afterlife that keeps jumping between remembered golden moments from Ranyevskaya's bygone era – afternoon tea on the verandah, a couple waltzing in evening dress – and more premonitory visions. It's as if you're caught, with Firs, in some hallucinatory limbo. Flashes from his past life are yearningly played over and over, while we also see future ages stretching out to the crack of doom: communist, post-communist, and possibly post-capitalist set-ups emerging and decaying.

This may sound complicated, but you get the idea as you wander, gradually comprehending director Tristan Sharp's over-arching concept. In his final luminous video installation, you see a bird's-eye view of the tail-coated Firs, marooned on an island surrounded by a rising ocean. It's impossible to describe everything you'll encounter en route. Suffice to say, it's richly varied, and witty too. Be prepared to bargain with an international babble of sales personnel, try on ball gowns, pass through the back of a changing room into a ghostly throng of silent dummies, and fetch up in the Co-op window to the amazement of passers-by.

In Sarah Ruhl's American rewrite of the ancient myth of Eurydice, the youthful heroine – played with pluck and dignity by Ony Uhiara – dies on her wedding day. She is lured away from her music-obsessed groom, Orpheus (Osi Okerafor), and up to the penthouse of a creepy stranger (Rhys Rusbatch). He tantalises her with a letter from her beloved, dead father.

Next thing you know, she is descending in an imaginary elevator down to Hades. There she is showered with the Lethean waters of forgetfulness. But her late parent (Geff Francis) has somehow resisted the regime of numb oblivion. He tenderly re-teaches his daughter to remember how they lived and loved one another. Her desire to cling to him foils her husband's attempt to bring his wife back from the grave.

In this ATC production, director Bijan Sheibani's main players are quietly commendable, softly illuminated on a black stage. Francis is particularly touching. Nonetheless, Ruhl's dialogue sounds like a collection of poetic images too loosely strung together for narrative coherence. Her skills as a dramatist are, as yet, underdeveloped.

In Lucy Bailey's staging of Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globe, the murderous usurper's kingdom isn't far off Dante's inferno. Spectators standing in the pit are trapped – presumably in accordance with hell-fire regulations – under a giant bat's wing. Their heads poke out of a slit black sheet.

The most ghoulish scenes cause plenty of shrieks too, drowning out ghastly medieval bagpipes. In the opening battle, the gore-drenched messenger writhes up through the slit cloth. The ghost of Banquo, also dripping blood, worms out of a vast platter of cooked meats. Meanwhile, Frank Scantori is a devilishly funny, grotesque troll-porter, drunkenly lurching around with a bucket of piss, right over those unlucky punters at the front.

The real snag is that Bailey's two leading players aren't worth the candle. Laura Rogers is a feeble, fledgling Lady Macbeth. Her attempt to portray twisted orgasmic excitement is ludicrous, hurling herself into an erotic entanglement with some net curtains. Or was this just a desperate bout of spring cleaning at the approach of King Duncan? Elliot Cowan is somewhat better, but he has scant grip on Macbeth's character, lurching between mild scaredy-cat and macho hollering. Ah well, as least he's consistent in stripping off his chainmail and flaunting his warrior-hero musculature at every opportunity.

"What is that noise?" "It was the cry of bug-eyed women, my good lord!"

'Before I Sleep' (01273 709709) to 23 May; 'Eurydice' (020-7922 2922) to 5 Jun; 'Macbeth' (020-7401 9919) to 27 Jun

Next Week:

Kate Bassett catches Charlotte Randle in Love the Sinner, Drew Pautz's NT premiere about church leaders in an African conference hotel

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas