Left – Nicole Nabout and Justin Hosking. Cover – Justin Hosking. Photos – Teresa Noble
"Is it now? I thought I had more time." Profound and lingering first words that cast a knowing but melancholy shadow across all that follows in the Australian premier of Will Eno’s Wakey Wakey.
Sobering and confronting but simultaneously life affirming and joyful, this is gentle but by no means easy or passive theatre. Wakey Wakey plays like an existential stream of consciousness “auto-eulogy’ that, if not for the arrival of an additional character, would hover somewhere between monologue and Ted Talk. Given the considerations we are directly asked to make, (and I do mean directly) there is work for us to do and it’s this work that will ensure the play resonates long after the lights come up on us bearing witness to someone’s lights going down.
Justin Hosking delivers an engaging and powerful performance as Guy. Incredibly good and crucially for the piece, abundantly likable. This is really challenging work for an actor with processes and choices impossible to be anything other than resolutely personal. With thinking being virtually and actually audible, the conventions of this play take moments of adjustment but results in a soothing and moving pay off. Bordering on stand up in style with ‘maybe’ rhetorical approaches to an audience in touchable proximity presents real danger for an actor. Exciting as it is to watch, the invitation to respond will no doubt be taken up by some and while it didn’t happen when I saw the performance, it would be interesting to know what armour is in place to fend off and proceed.
The arrival of the beautifully serene Nicole Nabout as Lisa feels like an intrusion to our deeply personal and private relationship with Guy. The conversation suddenly feels over and in truth, it is. Evoking a gentle care and a smiling kind willingness to be there, Nicole Nabout is lovely to watch wafting in and out of reality.
Aiding in the suspension of disbelief in what is possibly 70 minutes depicting a few moments is a series of visual and audio effects. Credit is absolutely due to Marshall White (AV Design), Lucas Silva-Myles (Lighting Design) and Justin Gardam (Composition and Sound Design). The impressive input from these creatives added immensely to the productions dreamlike quality and oddly so did the “Was that part of the show?’ soundscape from Chapel Street petrol heads. (Perhaps a funding application for theatre sound proofing is order here Red Stitch!)
Presiding over all is Director David Myles and his efforts to guide this piece are truly noteworthy and exceedingly interesting to consider. This is a profoundly intimate play with the work feeling genuinely collaborative.
Immersive and genre crossing, Wakey Wakey is thoughtful, funny, affecting, clever and beautifully performed. Another excellent ‘Stitch’ in the tapestry of this innovative company.
Red Stitch presents
by Will Eno
Director David Myles
Venue: Red Stitch Theatre | Rear 2 Chapel Street, St Kilda VIC
Dates: 28 April – 19 May 2019
Tickets: $15.00 – $55.00
Bookings: (03) 9533 8083 | www.redstitch.net