‘The Cocoon’ was spiritual.
Something very special and magical happened at the Wynnum Library as part of the Wynnum Fringe Festival this year. An ethereal safe space was created by Pink Lake Productions for love, loss and heartbreak to come spilling out for all to feel, and in a packed space where audience and performers meshed together, the experience bordered on therapeutic. ‘The Cocoon’ navigates a fascinating area between reality and romantic concepts of destiny.
The short work is by New York-based playwright Kotryna Gersait, and it uncovers the hardships and joys of love in all its stages. It’s split into four sections with four different but closely linked relationships – showing first dates and fights, marriage and planning for the future, all linked by references to past lives and reincarnation. This variation makes the play so much more than your typical love story. Its structure makes us contemplate definitions of “relationship” in the past compared to in the present, and with this, we truly do see love in all shapes and sizes. Towards the end of the play, one of the characters laments that love is a genetic mutation, a sentiment met with rejection by others, but still a poignant point that stirs the brain cogs. How are we wired as humans and what could be our capacities of loving other humans? Gersait explores some interesting and often stunning metaphors to relate to the relationships in the play, writing with a lyricism that makes one sigh dreamily. And while I struggled through the banal moments with the young couple that “just weren’t working out”, you could see how it worked into the scheme of the play.
‘The Cocoon’ was a pleasing show on the eyes with its gently twinkling fairy lights, positioned in a ring on the middle of the stage and accompanied by tall ‘cocoon’ shaped lamps around the perimeter where the audience sat. The warm glow that enveloped the space, along with a gentle sound design by Nadav Rayman, created the safe space that the characters needed but also ensured the audience experience was calm and therapeutic, even uncomfortable moments.
With direction by Timothy Wynn, all elements of the show worked together. It was engaging with its open and honest conversational tone, the performers were clearly invested in their performance, and the roundhouse style stage provided a most wonderful, unrestricted space for Gersait’s words to be spoken. I particularly enjoyed transitions between the scenes, where it seemed we were going to meet the people that the characters were speaking about so fondly, before realising it was the beginning of a new scene with new characters. The cycle of relationships and the deep bonds that exist between people were cleverly intertwined.
The play is largely between two characters, but with a full cast of six, the themes are cracked wider open. Emma Black grabbed attention at the top of the piece, with a playful yet emotionally raw performance. Black was generally a delight to watch. Matt Young was also a highlight and performed with conviction and great stage presence, Young’s portrayal of a man in a difficult situation brimmed with sensitivity. Additionally, Bronte Larson and Cindel Waddington had a giggly, lovey-dovey energy that warmed hearts, and James Reiser and Jacinda McLaughlin rounded out the tight cast.
‘The Cocoon’ is a touching piece of fringe theatre that does what all good theatre should do: connect with others and share experiences from the bottom of the heart. I recommend seeing this production in its next iteration in 2022.
‘The Cocoon’ performed to a sold-out show at Wynnum Library Meeting Room on Wednesday, 17 November 2021. For more information about Pink Lake Productions, follow them on their Facebook page.
Photos by Matt Taylor