Tuesday 19 September 2017

The Cocoon - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Love and all its forms are put under the spotlight in Kotryna Gesait's Melbourne Fringe Festival show, The Cocoon. Inside the intimate Brunswick studio, a number of performers stand in the round as they share personal stories of love and through interactions with the audience, reach some form of resolve or closure.

Paul Robertson plays a gay man who recalls his partner's transition from male to female. While he is sympathetic, Robertson needs to trust that the audience can understand his thought and feelings through the words without shouting. Similarly, Melina Wylie's monologue on her desperate search for love relies too much on theatricality to create a connection between her and the audience. 

However, the two partnered scenes - one where a relationship is ending (Tamiah Bantum and Ange Arabatzis) and another that is just beginning (Hannah Vanderheide and Kate Bayley) - feel authentic and complex. The performances are strong and anchored by a thoughtful script, particularly with Vanderheide and Bayley.

Chantal Marks's set design is centred on a cocoon-like sculptural structure that stands in the middle of the room and spreads out along the ceiling to the four corners. It is used well throughout the show, especially in the closing moments where these stories comes together.

While The Cocoon states it is an immersive show, it was unclear as to how this would occur and there was a sense of uncertainty as to what our role was. The actors would occasionally ask a question or make a statement that the other non-performing actors would respond to or throw in their thoughts but as an audience member, you're not quite sure when or if you should say anything. Perhaps being more obvious and direct with the audience during the initial questions would make this intent clearer as towards the end of the show the audience became more active in these interactions and you could feel the energy in the room begin to change.

The Cocoon is a touching piece of theatre on love, being loved, finding love and losing love. Gesait has created a number of captivating stories set in a unique environment. Despite the immersive aspect of the performance not being very successful on the evening I attended, this idea of "groundlings" is still an interesting concept that is well worth exploring and experiencing.

Click here to read my interview with Kotryna Gesait. 
Show Information 

Venue: The Portable, 3 Dawson St, Brunswick, 3056.
Season: until 30 September | Wed - Sun 9:00pm
Length: 70 minutes

Tickets: $32 Full | $27 Conc/
| $25 Group 6+
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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