Robert Tanitch review Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes at Park Theatre, London N4
Daniel Everett, an evangelical Christian and an academic linguist, spent three decades in the Amazonian forest among the Piraha tribe in the late 1970’s. He published a book about his experience in 2008.
The expedition, funded by Christians, was not just a linguistic and anthropological investigation; he was on a mission.
He learned the Piraha unwritten-language, a formidable task, and then tried to convert them to Christianity. He failed and he became an atheist.
The Pirahas have no interest in the past or the future. They have no interest in what they cannot see. They live entirely in the immediate present. They have no Creation story. They have no gods. They have no word for “worry” and they are happy.
Simple8’s attempt to make the book stage-worthy doesn’t always succeed and sometimes it just becomes a lecture on linguistics and recursion in particular.
The performance has a theatre-in-education feel to it. Mark Arends, an engaging performer, plays Everett and deftly holds the ensemble production together.