Theatre Review: Coma Land is Another Must-See Black Swan Production
Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. Coma Land, the fantastic new production from Black Swan Theatre Company, made me feel every possible feeling along the spectrum last night, and I loved every minute of it.
Coma Land takes place in a transitory world between life and death. We follow the story of Boon (sympathetically portrayed by Kirsty Marillier), a young genius who finds herself caught in this dream world. Here, she befriends Penguin (brought perfectly to life by the exciting newcomer Morgan Owen), a young girl who dreams of flying, and whose mysterious father (laudable veteran Humphrey Bower) seems determined to keep Boon from returning home. Meanwhile, Amy Mathews (whom we recently saw in the exceptional Blue Room show Toast) and celebrated comedian Ben Sutton respectively play Jinny the party planner and Cola the panda, whose brief stays in the titular world become entwined with the curious dynamic of the other dwellers.
Photos by Philip Gostelow
The performances were of the highest calibre, making it impossible for the audience to not care deeply about each character. Will O’Mahony’s guidance as director and playwright deserves plenty of praise. His script granted vast emotional depth to all his creations, even to those that could have easily been treated solely as comic relief. It has been a long time since I have seen a play that utilised silence with such great potency; the play begun without a word spoken for almost five minutes, and leaned heavily on this element throughout. The silence was so powerful that at times you could feel everyone holding their breath, willing themselves not to break it. The action took place largely on a revolving stage, a captivating addition that was vital to the advancement of the plot.
The play tackles a lot of big issues with both ease and insight. Drawing inspiration from a plethora of psychological theories (from Gardner to Freud), Coma Land centres on the issue of parental love and acceptance in a world that always strives for mastery with great delicacy. Yet, despite exploring such loaded themes, the play kept a perfect balance between light and dark. For every tear-jerking moment or jaw-dropping reveal, there was a hearty laugh or two. This ensured that no scene outlived its welcome. There was truly never a dull moment.
Coma Land is a perfect example of a play with encapsulating both an intriguing concept and perfect execution. It’s a well-written piece that assumes the intelligence of its audience, thus making it vastly rewarding and enlightening. I am still in awe at how well O’Mahony could create an atmosphere so tangible you could feel it in your skin. Black Swan have always produced plays to the highest quality, and they have outdone themselves with this one.
Coma Land is on at the State Theatre Centre until August 6. More details and tickets can be found HERE, don't miss out!