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Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2013
Directed by Samuel Phillips
presented by Bright Orange Walls

at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 2 Mar 2013 to 7 Mar 2013

Reviewed by Helen Sims, 3 Mar 2013

Light Sleepers' Wake is a devised work from new company Bright Orange Walls. Set in a dark city approaching the apocalypse, various characters struggle to make choices which could have very final consequences. As they continue with normal routines in a rapidly changing environment, they connect in unexpected ways, some with kindness and others with cruelty.

The four performers (Tom Clarke, Pippa Drakeford, Jonathan Price and Maggie White) play a number of characters including an abnormally cheerful radio host, an eccentric woman in an oilskin coat hunting for an item which holds mysterious meaning to her, a young woman who clutches her radio and sings, a bartender and his ageing dog and a murderer.

Directed by Samuel Phillips, they all perform with great energy and commitment, but at times delineation between and development of characters could be clearer.  The exceptions are the radio host and eccentric collector, who are beautifully realised and progress throughout the show.  

The set and lighting is very dark. Four sets of black horizontal blinds are manipulated by the performers to create both solid and transparent walls on the stage. Full black trash bags line the stage and are poked through by the oilskin coat wearing eccentric woman. Simple everyday items are imaginatively used as props.

The lighting is moody, successfully creating a noir atmosphere, although the darkness does mean I often can't see the actors' faces, making it difficult to feel much connection with them. 

There are some excellent scenes in the devised work, in particular the brutal interrogation scene and the bar scene. However, overall I do not understand how the scenes and characters ‘fit' together in a single story or around a unifying theme, or the relevance of the title.

This work has great promise, and I hope the company continues to develop it and try to achieve a greater sense of interconnection and tell the story the programme note tantalisingly sets out. 
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