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By Brian Carroll on June 21, 2014

Review by Brian Carroll
70 min | Solo | PG

Todd can’t sleep. Not just now. Not just for a night. 24/7. All day, every day.

He’s in a doctor’s care. Medication offers no relief. The doctor is attempting psychotherapy. Are there psychological triggers in the recent past? Social isolation, job loss, inept social interactions with women? But is his insomnia the result? Or the cause?

Lacking sleep, Todd’s body and mind need the respite of dreams. They invade his waking hours. How is he supposed to differentiate dreams from reality? Both are so vivid to him.

And what of the death of Todd’s father? By an inherited genetic disease.

The audience joins Todd in these vivid experiences. Like him, we try to tell reality and hallucination apart. How do we know we’re right?

To tell more would be to give spoilers, as opposed to whetting appetite to see the show. Actor/playwright Nicholas Amott gives an engaging, physical and nuanced performance of Todd and a set of other characters. These are supplemented by recorded voices over the venue’s public address system.

Opening night was a world premiere of the full-length play. (Previous versions were workshopped and shorter in length.) While this is a strong work well worth seeing, it is not without room for improvement.

The first problem is the venue, a church sanctuary.

NOTE: the other four productions listed in the program at St. Paul’s are performed in the basement.

The sanctuary offers a large performance space suitable for the show’s physical needs. But the sanctuary has echoey acoustics which make it hard to hear Amott when he faces the back wall from the floor of the sanctuary.

The second main problem is that the show ran 10 minutes overtime from its scheduled start till when the patrons could leave.

Both problems can be ameliorated by editing some scenes that require Amott to speak to the wall, particularly scenes early in the script when the audience is most confused. The production would be tighter and the critical scenes near the end would have more impact.

The third problem is the venue’s public address system. It’s designed for only one person speaking at a time. With the echoey acoustic of the sanctuary, the PA was hard to hear, particularly when overlapping recorded voices were used. While I appreciate the attempt not to overwhelm Amott’s live voice, a tad more volume on the PA would provide better balance and give the audience a better chance at catching important information.

This is a fascinating new work that is looking for an audience that likes a mystery.

Audience, meet Wake. Wake, meet audience.

Wake by FireFlood Theatre is playing in the Sanctuary of St. Paul’s Eastern United on Saturday, June 21 at 10:00pm; Sunday, June 22 at 8:00pm; Wednesday, June 25 at 8:00pm; Thursday, June 26 at 8:30pm; Friday, June 27th at 9:00PM; Saturday, June 28 at 3:00pm and 9pm. Tickets $10.

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