KRAKEN (Trygve Wakenshaw)

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

06/05/2014 - 10/05/2014

Isaac Theatre Royal, The Gloucester Room, Christchurch

04/09/2015 - 06/09/2015

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

13/05/2014 - 17/05/2014

Christchurch Arts Festival 2015

NZ International Comedy Festival 2014

Production Details

An idiotic, stormy, arthouse opera, Kraken is a stunning arena spectacular packed into a too small venue. Oozing with whimsy. Dripping with charm.
Leaking beautiful strange comedy. A dark and stormy stream-of consciousness narrative about the fear of change and the ocean floor. 

From the genius that brought you Squidboy at the 2013 Fringe Fest. 

“It sounds mad, and it is. But in Wakenshaw’s masterful hands the audience completely buys into the physical and narrative laws of his world” – Fringe Fest

Dates:  Tue 6 May – Sat 10 May 2014, 8pm 
Venues:  BATS Theatre, Wellington  
Tickets:  Adults $20.00  Conc. $15.00
Groups 6+ $15.00* service fees may apply 
Bookings:  04 802 4175

Dates:  Tue 13 – Sat 17 May 2014, 9pm 
Venues:  Herald Theatre, Auckland 
Tickets:  Adults $25.00 | Conc. $20.00
Groups 6+ $20.00* service fees may apply 
Bookings:  09 970 9700

4-6 September 2015
The Gloucester Room, Isaac Theatre Royal
Book 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

Theatre , Solo , Physical , Comedy ,


Completely won over

Review by Erin Harrington 05th Sep 2015

Gaulier-trained clown Trygve Wakenshaw is a deft and precise physical comedian, and his clown-persona is all spaghetti-limbed enthusiasm and adolescent guilelessness. Here, the kraken is a metaphor for plumbing the depths of creative imagination. The show feels like giddy, looping stream-of-consciousness meandering, but there is some clever narrative structure and cause and effect underlying the action.

His free associations are silly, often surreal, intermittently smutty and occasionally quite grotesque. This is something that I am well into, but which the couple sitting next to me find borderline offensive, and when they are called on to participate they sit in stony silence. Well, too bad for them. This is a great show, and at the time of writing it has just about – and quite deservedly – sold out.

The performance leverages our own expectations – of the eccentric unfurling situations, of what bodies should and shouldn’t do on stage, of mime itself – and works best when it lets our imaginations furnish the empty space with the various invisible props and set pieces that Wakenshaw has ‘left’ lying around.

I love the interplay between what is seen and unseen, and what is heard and left mute. This latter relationship plays out beautifully as Wakenshaw constructs elaborate musical gags that play out in near silence, while vocalisations and words form the core of other, more physical jokes. The uncredited technical crew deserve praise for their participation in some great comic moments.

It takes a while for the audience to warm up, cautious Christchurch and all that, horrified at the thought of audience participation and not sure if it’s kosher to laugh at a guy getting his kit off 30 seconds into a show. This is another ruse though: here’s the clown stripped bare and then remade, all black lycra and limb-flinging glee, and there’s definitely nothing up his sleeves. By the end of the performance we are completely won over, and not particularly interested in leaving while Wakenshaw plays himself out with some improvised contemporary dance (to Enya, naturally).


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A wondrously creative imagination

Review by John Smythe 07th May 2014

The standing ovation Trygve Wakenshaw earns at the end of his 50-minute show affirms his status as a hugely admired physical comedy performer. His ‘stream of physicality’ method of progressively creating whimsical images and scenarios reminds me of an animated film I once saw where an unbroken pencil line proves to be infinitely transformative.  

Kraken, Wikipedia reveals, is a legendary sea monster of giant proportions that is said to dwell off the coasts of Norway and Greenland. The mythology may have arisen from actual sightings of giant squid, such as Jules Verne envisaged in 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Given last year’s Squidboy, it’s fair to suggest a theme is emerging – or maybe the squid motif simply captures the essence of gangly Wakenshaw’s physically fluid and often floaty clown.

Given the reductive nature of his comedy it’s not surprising the tentacles that try to hold him back as he enters – that he has to escape from in exquisite slow motion – are very thin indeed. Stripped to his essence, twice, and achieving redress, lycra-clad Wakenshaw is now free to explore the potential of the empty space.

Ah but this one has walls. Is he in a tank? What’s this: a mic? For a moment it seems he’s about to do stand-up, or sing – ah no, it’s a library; a book to be read, Moby Dick no less …

His miming, with subtly-produced sound effects and the odd word uttered – even whole sentences sometimes – allows for infinite possibilities. Ambiguities abound but always the ebullient action resolves into something recognisable which we, being human and addicted to meanings, instantly grasp. Little exclamations of delighted discovery punctuate each new manifestation of his wondrously creative imagination.

How much more can I say without spoiling the magical moments for you? This much, anyway: you will discover sampling pedals are not just confined to music; a singlet is eminently capable of becoming a TV screen; imagined magic is just as magic; any wound can be kissed better … And that’s not the half of it.

Enough. Just go. You won’t be sorry.


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