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South East
posted/updated: 08 Jul 2015 -
Kevin Wilson
society/company: Origins Theatre (directory)
performance date: 01 Jul 2015
venue: Depozitory.
reviewer/s: Cheryl Barrett (Sardines review)

‘WAKE’ by Kevin Wilson

It is always good to see a new and original drama, and ‘Wake’ did not disappoint. With a tight, well-rehearsed script and good acting it was received well by the audience.

This thought-provoking new play was written and directed by Kevin Wilson and performed by members of Origins Theatre. The play premiered as part of Ryde Arts Festival on the Isle of Wight and was staged at The Depozitory, a former Methodist church, now a gallery and artist studios.

‘Wake’ focusses on the way our beliefs govern our lives, and how they change when we falter. The ambiguity of the word wake – referring to a track in the water, to emerge from sleep and a watch or vigil – was evident throughout as we followed the central character Mel on her journey of rediscovery following the death of her father.

Pam Sterling gave a fine performance as Mel, as we saw the gradual shift from grief-stricken daughter at her father’s wake to one of self-discovery as she tries to find her own way in the world. Moments with her father, played sensitively by Nigel Walsh, showed their close relationship and the grief that followed his death was very moving. Mel’s circle of friends had their own beliefs and support systems - Nikita Yeo was totally believable as a young woman engrossed in yoga as was Peter Raftery as a brash, swaggering, money and work fixated high flyer, very reminiscent of the go-getting 1980s; Kayleigh Beckett and Lorna Wilson represented religious beliefs, whilst Maureen Sullivan was in meditative mode. Mo White and Steve Watts made up this 9 strong cast.

There were some lovely vignettes - I particularly enjoyed the scene where Mel seemingly finds love on a cruise - writer Kevin Wilson’s reflections of life on a cruise ship were spot on. The Cinema scene was light-hearted to begin with and the focus on a young couple obviously in love – though not enough for her to share her box of chocolates - juxtaposed with Mel realising that having a boyfriend wasn’t the answer, worked extremely well.

The set was simple with moveable fold up chairs, a couple of crates and various props such as cups of coffee, a sheet, Filofax, books etc. With no stage and the close proximity of the acting area to the audience it was more intimate, thus drawing the audience in so that we too became her circle of friends. The director utilised the space and cast well - standing in a V shape to represent the prow of a ship. Costume changes worked well – especially Mel’s bright summery dress to denote the grieving period had passed. The choice of song, ‘Strong’, before the funeral hymn, proved apt.

‘Wake’ is a very well written play, and despite the seriousness of the title was both moving and funny. A good observation of human feelings and beliefs, ‘Wake’ has the ability to entertain and leave the audience in reflective mode. Far from being an in-depth exploration of grief it is one of self-discovery. With a running time of sixty minutes the play had impact.

For those who missed the premiere of ‘Wake’, it will be performed at the following Isle of Wight venues: July 9th at Freshwater Memorial Hall. August 8th at Chale Church.

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