In the basement of the Royal Oak audiences gather not for book club but for spiritual enlightenment. We are welcomed in by the Synsk sisters, Garnish and Cora, who draw you into their world of spirituality, astrology, and lessons in speaking Goat.
In Waking Life is a decidedly character-driven piece; there is a small element of plot that creeps up towards the end of this show but for the most part In Waking Life is your first encounter with some rather kooky characters who are still very friendly and approachable. Because so much of the show’s value lies in the sisters revealing unusual information about themselves, I’ll try to keep the description as minimal as possible.
Because the sisters are so highly unusual I do wonder if there’s some element of satire going on in this show. While the audience interaction (of which there is quite a bit) is clearly improvised there are other parts that come across as improvised as well, such as a song that explains all the things one should never say to all the various star signs (as a Libra, don’t tell me to turn my music down). The sisters have such a strong energy together but because they inhabit their own strange world that energy doesn’t always come across to the audience, although it is fascinating to watch. Could it be that those who set so much store by astrology and horoscopes live in their own minds and can’t connect meaningfully to other because of it? Maybe.
One of the more rewarding parts of this show is the prepared aspects, such as the homemade astrology book presented to a promising audience member, and the home pictures of the sisters with their family, which comprises a crystal ball, an 8-ball, and cootie catchers. The book in particular is very detailed and hand-drawn, and the pictures are amusing.
I wonder if this show would work better not as a traditional theatre show but as an immersive event or as part of a carnival-type atmosphere. Since the plot is fairly minimal it seems more like a sketch that ends the show. It’s fine but perhaps one or two other sketches or a fuller plotline would be helpful, unless the character-driven aspect is the point, in which case the personalities are already there.
In Waking Life is one of the sillier options this year, but with a beer in hand and an open mind you just might discover your true love or your psychic calling.
In Waking Life
An Amped Up Theatre Production
Created and Performed by Monica Bradford-Lea and Lauren Welchner
At the Royal Oak (BYOV D)