The Bats production of When We Dead Awaken was thrilling and captivating.
You enter the Dome Theatre, and already on stage is The Artist, Arnold Rubek played by Ryan Cundy. He is sitting down obviously engrossed in his own thoughts. Then The Other One, Maia Rubek played by Iris Henderson appears and is trying to get Arnold’s attention. As this occurs on stage, the show transitions into starting.
The play was written by Henrik Ibsen, the second most performed playwright in the world. It was published in 1899 and is set in Norway.
You soon work out Arnold and Maia are married, but not entirely comfortable. She struggles to get his attention, and he finds her distracting. But then the two of them are distracted by a sighting of The Strange Lady, Irina Von Satow, played by Catriona Tipene. Shadowing her is The Woman in Black played by Evangelina Teller. You also have The Bear-Killer, Ulfheim played by Tom Kereama.
The plot unwinds with intrigue. Do Arnold and Irina know each other? What or who is The Woman in Black? Will Maia seek a distraction with Ulfheim – the near opposite of Arnold. One is sensitive artist and the other is somewhat akin to a Norwegian version of Colin Meads who kills bears.
Dominating the set is the mountain behind them. It plays a critical part in the play.
You learn that all four main characters are tortured souls. Can they find happiness again? Is happiness the goal? Or is it to live? And what or whom exactly is The Woman in Black? She is a nun in the original script, but in this production comes across more a supernatural shadow.
The show is only 60 minutes long and has a lot of energy. Cundy and Henderson are great in their roles, with their body language being as powerful as their dialogue. A strained relationship, which they finally confront. Tipene is also very good as the mysterious and tortured Strange Lady.
A raw and powerful show which had me engrossed.
Rating – **** (out of five)