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Melbourne Fringe 2017

The Cocoon

Northern Theatre Company

Genre: Immersive, Theatre

Venue: The Portable, 3 Dawson Street, Brunswick


Low Down

The Cocoon is derived from New Yorker turned Melburnian writer/director Kotryna Gesait’s The Nursery Web, and is an immersive theatre experience which challenges the audience on the constructs of romance, gender and sexuality. Covering love from all angles, The Cocoon delves into the caverns of innocence, desire, love lost and found.


Set in a cocoon (although admittedly the set looks more like a web) the audience becomes part of the experience from the moment they walk in as they get to mingle with the cast. The set design is amazing with strands of “silk” emanating from the centre of the set, with the lighting closing you into this oddly comfortable environment.  The transition from the interaction with the cast to the play beginning is seamless and feels spontaneous.

There are four vignettes consisting of rejection, breakup, rediscovering love, and finding love. Some are monologues and some involve couples. The script is the real standout and the wonderful cast is befitting of it. The writing is sublime as it moves between these states of love across gender, age and sexuality. It unpacks the challenging preconceived notions on sex, gender identity and romance in a sophisticated way that delivers gasps and laughter both as you do and don’t expect to. I felt enriched by the experience.

Melina Wylie (the Unrequited), who begins the play, brings the experience of one-sided love and rejection in a heartfelt and terrifying way as she captures the sometimes savage outcomes of being vulnerable. Ange Arabatzis (He) and Tamiah Bantum (She) are both haunting and bruising as the couple breaking up as they go through this torturous experience in a surreal manner. Paul Robertson (the Revolver) tells of his journey of rediscovering love within his relationship with such tenderness and joy that he floats around the set with infectious glee. In a welcome relief to the tales that precede them, Hannah Vanderheuide (Infatuant) and Kate Bayley (Infatuant 2) bring to life how love can blindside two unsuspecting individuals in a pinch-their-cheeks delightful manner.

The characters are present throughout each other’s telling of their stories and interject their opinions, support and disdain at will. Inserting themselves amongst the audience, these unscripted moments are a delightful blurring of the fourth wall and the actors navigate and incorporate these helpful (or not) sentiments with ease.

Bringing the characters and their individual tales of point-in-time love together in this immersive way between the actors and the audience is a visceral delight. I felt lost in, and intimately connected to, each of the at times nauseating, at times pathetic, at times infuriating and at times beautiful tales of the human lust for connection.

Don’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal to the most intimate moments of the human romantic experience. The Cocoon is genuinely amazing.