The Cocoon

The Cocoon Adelaide Fringe 2018Kotryna Gesait. Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury Tunnels. 15 Mar 2018

Descending the steps into the bowels of the Treasury, one is cocooned by the narrow and brilliant whitewashed corridors. The players - dressed in white - greet us with warm and welcoming smiles; I thought maybe I'd gone to heaven.

The play comprises a number of emotionally charged vignettes of tangled love, and if not one of them sounds familiar to you, then you have never got in over your head with another person and probably think that's a good thing.

In the first, Phoebe Taylor's character loses control at first sight and suffers palpable disappointment and humiliation over unrequited love.

Beckoned to the next chamber, actors Jacinda McLaughlin and William Servinis (in his triumphant live theatre debut), play adolescent lovers so completely misunderstanding each other that one is sent immediately back to high school recollecting similar frustrating and awkward stand-offs.

Roy Barker's The Relover just got comfortable exalting in his "homo-normal" relationship when the rules change and he tells us how he copes. Having The Relover's partner on stage - instead of just hearing the story - would have been an improvement.

But the best is saved for last, in the furthest subterranean chamber where there is nowhere else to go, when we witness Cindel Waddington and Claire Sara's infatuants wrestle with their feelings the morning after the first night together. Here Gesait's writing reaches crescendo in the hands of these two actors who, when they are not expressing their awe of each other, expose their characters' insecurities with their Beckettian inner voice.

Indeed, all performances are similarly successful thanks to Gesait's direction in the use of body language and non-visual communication, coupled to a welcoming vulnerability. One is entirely convinced that the stakes are very high in these arenas of love in all its forms.

For me, this show is a profoundly moving experience, compelling me to recall love affairs, to conjure feelings forgotten, and to make me think how terribly comfortable and smug I've become in my older age and my marriage. The players invite a little playful interaction and this breaks down the fourth wall barrier fast, facilitating emotional involvement.

With willing and deep engagement, it's not possible to come out of the tunnels without considerable self-reflection. Bravo!

David Grybowski

5 stars

When: 14 to 17 Mar

Where: Adina Treasury Tunnels

Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au

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