Comaland12.Humphrey Bower

Will O’Mahony’s latest offering, the ethereal Coma Land is a pure delight.

UnknownFunny and often beautifully poignant, O’Mahony’s direction and clever writing explores the changing relationships between parent and child, success and failure, mastering and perfection. Set in the icy coma limbo between life and death, bonds between individuals thrown together in the most extraordinary of places, are strikingly exposed.

Kirsty Marillier is Boon, a child prodigy, who finds herself trapped ‘in between’ through tragic circumstances. There she meets PenguinUnknown-3 (Morgan Owen), a young girl determined to ‘find her thing’ by mastering the art of flight. Marillier and Owen in their own rights are two fine young actors – but together, they are superb. They bounce effortlessly off one another, no more so than when Penguin reveals the mysterious land that Boon has found herself and explains the ‘rules’ to return to the living. Amusing, captivating and a brilliant way to mark their Black Swan debut.

Humphrey Bower gives a wonderfully measured performance as Eskimo, Penguin’s over protective father, struggling with his want to hold on and his need to let go of his beloved daughter. I won’t go into more detail for fear of giving away, but Bower’s character progression is a pleasure to watch. A testament to the collaboration of writer/director and actor.

Unknown-2Amy Mathews is just lovely as party planner Jinny, in limbo during routine dental surgery. What is particularly impressive is the subtlety behind Matthews acting in what is arguably the difficult ‘straight’ role amongst an ensemble of characters.

And to round out this impressive cast, Ben Sutton is a treat as Cola, a onesie wearing, child hating, grumpy Panda. Cola finds himself on this mysterious plane during harvesting surgery for his endangered Panda sperm. Sutton’s comedic talents are spot on and the rapport between Panda and party planner are hilarious and beautifully real.

Patrick James Howe’s revolving stage captures the cold starkness of the in between brilliantly. The large square revolve looks as if Unknown-1hovering in limbo and the clever use of plush pile carpet picks up footprints and body outlines as if walking or laying in the snow laden coma plane and a perfect accompaniment to Chris Connelly’s thoughtful and emotive lighting design.

This is one of Black Swan’s best. It’s an evening of thought provoking, emotion inducing theatre and definitely should not be missed.

SET DESIGNER: Patrick James Howe
DRAMATURG: James Berlyn
CAST INCLUDES:  Humphrey Bower, Kirsty Marillier, Amy Mathews, Morgan Owen, Ben Sutton

Photo Credit: Philip Gostelow
Co-production between Black Swan State Theatre Company and Performing Lines Australia
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia