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Review: Perpetual Wake at Subiaco Arts Centre

By: Tatum Stafford

Having witnessed some of Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s work in Fag/Stag a few Fringe festivals ago, I knew I was in for some fantastically smart writing in his new show, Perpetual Wake. Co-written by Fowler and Gita Bezard (who also directs), this quirky piece doesn’t go quite where the audience expects it to – which makes it all the more fun.

The Last Great Hunt is a prolific theatre company based in Perth, and definitely has another hit on their hands with this show. Opening with the tale of social media influencer Fiona West (Charlotte Otton)’s interaction with renowned reviewer Paul Creel (Chris Isaacs), this play delves into some superb methods of storytelling to parallel the lives of Fiona and Paul, with those of the fictional Molly (often played by Arielle Gray), a stag and her lover Brack.

This innovative theatre company should first be commended for this play’s hilarious book. There was rarely a moment when its first preview audience wasn’t in stitches, or wasn’t gasping for air as the quick-witted dialogue kept bouncing between each character. Some particular highlights came as the stag (Fowler) pranced about the stage and taunted characters in his wake. Or perhaps the sharp banter between Fiona and Paul’s wife, as Fiona’s ‘fangirl’ status is revealed, and subsequently, capitalised upon to help the success of the novel ‘Perpetual Wake’. All interactions between the characters were extremely well written, and revealed much about each character’s psyche without explaining this outright.

One thing this show should be particularly celebrated for is its handling of its female characters. Fiona, Paul’s wife and Molly are incredibly complex and messy characters, but are performed with a vigour that revitalises them as hilarious counterparts to the more realistic aspects of the play’s plot. Special mention must also be made to Otton’s stunning singing voice, as her rendition of the steamy Veronica’s song gave a great oomph to the show’s denouement (and featured some sassy dancing from Fowler and Isaacs as part of her performance troupe).

The women’s male counterparts were equally as complex and entertaining. Fowler’s many characters made for fantastically silly comedic relief, and Isaacs’ work as the snobby Paul Creel was magnetising to watch. All four cast members played off each other with a remarkable ease and familiarity – which made the show all the more exciting when wigs and jackets were swapped and different characters were introduced.

The Last Great Hunt is renowned for its surrealist influences – and fans of the company will certainly not be disappointed if this is what they expect from Perpetual Wake. From a powerful, metaphoric opening to the show’s (often bizarre) reliance on multi-role playing, there is certainly something for surrealist enthusiasts and natural theatregoers alike.

The show’s witty tagline is ‘If at first you don’t succeed, lie and lie again’ – but I think you’ll succeed by simply buying a ticket and spending the evening with The Last Great Hunt’s fantastic players.

Image Credit: Cameron Etchells

All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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