REVIEW | Find your thing in Coma Land

Coma Land | State Theatre Centre | Until Sunday August 6th | ★ ★ ★ ½

Enter the snowy plains of Coma Land, a world where our consciousness lives when our bodies are without it. Black Swan State Theatre Company’s latest production with local playwright Will O’Mahoney takes audiences to a magical realm between life and death, where characters are on a search to find their “thing” and return to their living bodies.

Upon entering Coma Land, protagonist Boon (Kirsty Marillier) is greeted by the effervescent Penguin (Morgan Owen) who is eager to explain the rules of this plane. The chatty youngster tells the still-stunned Boon that she is unconscious and must find a personal item and “make it fly” in order to wake up – but if she finds an item that does not belong to her, she should let Penguin’s father Eskimo (Humphrey Bower) look after it. Penguin herself is also learning to fly, living by her father’s advice to commit ten thousand hours to master the feat.

Meanwhile, in another part of Coma Land, children’s party planner Jinny (Amy Mathews) and zoo-bound panda Cola (Ben Sutton) meet for the first time. The crotchety panda explains he is under anaesthetic so that his keepers can harvest his sperm, while Jinny explains she’s having a routine dental procedure. The two bond quite quickly, and are recruited by Eskimo to help celebrate Penguin’s birthday along with himself and Boon.

As the story unfolds, each character’s totem or “thing” is revealed, giving more insight into how each of the cast have come to be unconscious. At times, it seems each character’s totem may uncover more than their words let on. (Be sure to pay close attention!)

Marillier, Owen, Mathews and Sutton have certainly made their mark in their debut production with BSSTC, each bringing a unique life to their characters, while Bower channeled a mysterious and dark energy as Penguin’s doting father.

With a 70 minute running time, the story felt a bit rushed in certain moments. Characters made enormous mental strides in the blink of an eye, and plot points are explained a little too quickly… but perhaps this is the nature of Coma Land?

This original work from O’Mahony bears his trademark originality and blends humour with an earnest exploration of human relationships. I would recommend you find your thing too. Before it’s too late.

Coma Land will be at the State Theatre Centre’s Studio Underground until Sunday August 6th. Tickets and more information available from BSSTC.com.au

Leigh Andrew Hill

Images:- Philip Gostelow


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