BWW Reviews: WAKE, Jacksons Lane Theatre, March 15
A young man, somewhat pleased with himself, is suddenly locked in his flat and cannot escape - not just from his surroundings, but from himself, as an alter-ego turns up to taunt and, ultimately, to seduce him, as his "death" turns into a wake. With echoes of Kafka's darkest humour and psychoanalytic explorations of the mind, Acrojou's Wake (at Jackson's Lane Theatre until 17 March and on tour) brings together circus skills, music and performance art to celebrate a life well lived.
Under Flick Ferndinando's direction, Barney White's young man runs through the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) at each point taunted and helped by his alter ego (Jeni Barnard). Few words express these emotions - dance, mime and, spectacularly, German and Cyr wheel work convey the young man's thoughts as he suffers and then celebrates.
The show's ambition is laudable, but it suffers from demanding so much from its performers. While the circus skills are impressive and the dance sequences sensitive, the acting is less convincing and the music sometimes contradictory rather than complimentary to the action.
That sounds like damning the work with faint praise, which would be unfair, as this is not a show designed for commercial theatre, but for the kind of niche audiences that attend festivals and enjoy seeing old themes like life and death tackled in new and innovative ways. And that is what Wake does - and it does it well.