Coma Land @ State Theatre Centre 21/7

Morgan Owen as Penguin and Kirsty Marillier as Boon in Coma Land. Photo: Phillip Gostelow

Morgan Owen as Penguin and Kirsty Marillier as Boon in Coma Land. Photo: Phillip Gostelow

Director: Will O’Mahony

Cast: Kirsty Marillier, Humphrey Bower, Morgan Owen, Ben Sutton, Amy Matthews

Coma Land is a refreshing break from all those serious, gloomy plays that try to be profound (and then go nowhere near it). Instead Coma Land, is joyous, frivolous, and everyone on both stage and audience gets to embrace their inner child.

The concept of Coma Land relies on a suspension of disbelief- in which people who are in a state of unconsciousness, whether induced or otherwise, enter a whimsical, colourful world which reminds one of early childhood memories (at least as we can understand in an Occidental socio-cultural context- my own childhood primarily consisted of Age of Empires II, Starcraft and Warhammer 40,000 as far as I’m aware of), and in order to return to the real world, they must dig through the snow and find their thing.

The protagonist of this play is Boon (Marillier), as in a synonym for gift, benefit- who is a child prodigy who could master the various masterpieces of famous composers at a very young age, finds herself in Coma Land after an attempted suicide in the real world. Not long after landing in this mysterious place, she meets Penguin (Morgan Owen), a very young cheery, bubbly girl who yearns to fly- and joining this motley crew is Jinny, an overly-motherly party planner and Cola (Ben Sutton), a panda who is undergoing a sperm donor operation who wants to be a human and do normal things like sorting out taxes, and in the middle of all this, is Penguin’s over protective Dad (Bower), who somehow never wants to leave Coma Land.

The pacing of the play is very fast and feels rather short, and not a lot actually goes on narrative wise- no sweeping profound stories rich with drama to be found here. It is rather humble and concise rather than ambitious, which shows the writer’s ability to understand his scope and work within that narrow area. Neither does it try to be anything deep and meaningful, whilst cleverly working Malcolm Gladwell’s philosophy of 10,000 hours in a funny, informative way that doesn’t feel forced. And on a whole, everyone from stage to audience seems to have had fun with the concept.

Whether Coma Land is your thing or not, depends on how far you’re willing, or not, to dig for it.

Coma Land runs until 6 August.

Andrew Ryan