Theatre review: WAKE

La Mama Theatre has always been a personal favourite of mine. For over fifty years La Mama has been an institution of Melbourne independent theatre-making, producing a diverse range of shows right in the heart of Carlton.

Last night I saw WAKE, written and directed by Ben Anderson. The work forms part of La Mama’s exploration season that invites artists to explore boundaries and take risks with creative ideas. WAKE is a bunraku-style puppetry and visual theatre show that explores the life of a conspiracy theorist. The puppets were quite beautiful and their handlers multi-skilled sliding from puppeteers, to actors to singers.

The story opens on a stormy sea with gulls, fish and a man in a boat swishing around to beautiful harmonies that presented a stunning opening image. However, the story soon turned dark. There is a lot in this show that is at times both visually beautiful and funny, but at it’s essence the story is about a boy trying to understand his absent father – a man who appeared to suffer from a serious mental illness that caused him to be both highly intelligent and experience delusions.

Please note, the show does come with a trigger warning as there are references to suicide.

WAKE only runs until Wednesday 30th November. If you can’t make it to WAKE there is plenty more on offer at La Mama, so plan a visit.

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