Review: Wake in Fright

Based on Kenneth Cook’s cult novel of the same name, Wake In Frightis a harrowing tale of misadventure and mateship gone wrong.
 

Holden Street Theatres, Friday, March 7 Based on Kenneth Cook’s cult novel of the same name, Wake In Frightis a harrowing tale of misadventure and mateship gone wrong. John Grant is a school teacher returning home from his post out in a one-horse bush town. He passes through Bundanyabba on the way back to Sydney and here he finds himself bogged down in a world of hyper-masculinity, mateship, dust and sexual predation. In Bundanyabba, phrases like, “Do you want a beer?” or “How are you mate?” are not friendly sentiments, but unsettling portents of doom for our protagonist. The staging is sparse, and the show’s aesthetic mirrors Wake In Fright’s film adaptation, which works nicely. The acting is subtle and on-point without ever being melodramatic. Aside from the consistent and sympathetic John Grant, played by Leigh Ormsby, the rest of the cast shifts chameleon-like through a range of roles and threatening stances to heighten the claustrophobic mood of Bundanyabba. Altogether this is a fine and unsettling adaption of a classic Australian psychological thrill-ride. Rating: **** Wake in Fright continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio until Sunday, March 16. *This review first appeared in Rip It Up

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