Pwoah! is the word that sums up this production. I saw Kotryna Gesait perform in Take a Seat last month at Chapel off Chapel and her performance was fantastic. Clearly she is a triple threat after writing and directing The Cocoon. The script is tight, clever, raw and honest and the production is much the same.
Upon walking into the portable you are encouraged to walk around the space, talk to the performers if you want to (it’s ok if you don’t) touch the set and then sit wherever you feel like. The set consists of a large web made of plastic, similar to cling wrap, that meets at the centre of the room to form a chair, scattered around the centre seat are boxes, stairs and benches that the audience can sit on. The performers are already on stage chatting amongst themselves and to whichever audience members engage them. The lighting is perfect for the space and the ambient sounds surrounding you make you feel immersed straight away.
The show is written in four parts and focuses on the different angles of love. The first part is a monologue performed by Melina Wylie and explores the moment of trying to find a man, missing the good ones, dodging the douches and then the inner monologue of trying to work out if someone is interested or not. Wylie’s performance was fun and entertaining, she managed to grab the audience immediately and hold them exactly where she wanted them. Her timing was perfect and her ability to draw out the feelings that we have all felt before was on point.
Kotryna, the lawsuit is in the mail! Part two follows the story of a couple that are in the endless cycle of not wanting to let go even though deep down they both know it would be best for them both. It was essentially a transcript of one of my previous relationships and I never gave permission… In seriousness though, this piece is written and performed flawlessly. The defeated ‘I need you to leave’, to the fight to stay, to the convincing yourself that all you need is some reassurance, to the ridiculous questions we ask and back around again. It wasn’t just the fact that the story was so spot on, it was that Gesait’s writing is clever enough not to allow either party to be more right than the other. The audience can see both sides of the argument. Tamiah Bantum and Ange Arabatzis played beautifully off each other in roles that many of us can relate to. Bravo!
This monologue focuses on ‘The Relover’ a man who has been in a very happy homosexual relationship and then his partner drops the bombshell that he wants to undertake sex reassignment surgery. The story delves into his coming to terms with it, the operation and then the aftermath. Paul Robertson delivers this with piercing honesty. His ability to engage the audience immediately, look deep inside them and show his raw feelings was just sublime. He chose people out of the audience (just by referring things toward them) to be his male partner and then his female partner in a transition that was subtle and breathtaking. Robertson’s performance was the stand out of the night amongst a ridiculously strong cast. He was simply sensational.
Infatuant (Hannah Vanderheide) and Infatuant 2 (Kate Bayley) wake up after meeting in the club the night before. This story explores that awkward morning discussion after a potential one-night stand or something that may blossom into something more. This part was the toughest one to pull off effectively as it demands the two performers to switch from their awkwardness to asides with the audience and back again so often and quickly. Venderheide and Bayley managed to navigate this challenge reasonably well throughout the piece, although there was once or twice where the awkwardness didn’t quite hit where it needed to be. However, this was minor in the grand scheme of things and didn’t take away too much from the story they were telling.
The Cocoon is slick, fresh and exciting with a finale that was stunning. Kotryna Gesait is someone to keep an eye out for; her writing is brilliant. The cast are incredibly strong and they will leave you dissecting the piece many hours after you leave the space.
The Cocoon is running until the 30th of September at The Portable in Brunswick.