REVIEW: Coma Land
Black Swan State Theatre Company
By Zachary Sheridan
Coma Land is beautiful. It concerns a child genius, Boon, who can’t wake up. In this dreamscape she meets Penguin, a young girl determined to fly, as well as Penguin’s father – the aptly named Dad. Then there’s also Jinny, happy under a general anaesthetic, and Cola the Panda from Tokyo.
For me, it’s primarily a story about parents and children and how our inheritance writes us.
Patrick James Howe’s simple, revolving lush platform (that requires some assistance from the brilliant mind of Nadine from Twin Peaks and her noiseless drape runners) is put to excellent use as tables turn and players enter and exit cycles. And Rozina Suliman’s costume design is funny and memorable.
The performances are whole and heartbreaking, which is particularly awesome as the cast is studded with Black Swan newbies. Kirsty Marillier is understated and real enough to charm the room; Humphrey Bower’s tragic journey makes waves; Amy Mathews pulls you further in with a dreamlike air; and Morgan Owen is endearing and technically brilliant, her voice effortlessly flowing through a usually tough space. I particularly enjoyed the hilarity embedded in Ben Sutton’s panda. I wasn’t expecting to see a show advocating for animal rights, yet it was superb and timely when a question must’ve clocked in most audience members’ minds: why the hell do we lock animals up?
Will O’Mahony’s writing is rhythmic like poetry, and the direction matches. Overall, Coma Land gets to the heart of what theatre’s about: conversations between people. And in between those conversations were silences filled with meaning that the production definitely earned. Meditating on its themes after, it had me thinking about how everybody is flawed but that’s ok, and ultimately people are usually trying their best. We carry huge histories with us and have massive responsibility going forward, and a lot of care is needed – and its the kind of care that these characters have for one another.