Fringe is almost gone for another year, so you want to see some incredible shows as the last handful of nights slip through your fingers. I feel you. So get yourself a ticket to The Cocoon and swaddle yourself in tales of unrequited, passionate, deep and messed up love.
On opening night, a large and boisterous crowd huddled into the first chamber of tunnels under Victoria Square's Treasury building. Amongst the crowd were a handful of people dressed only in white. Over the next hour, they emerged into the centre of one room, then guided us into the next, and the next, to share their own love stories.
The four vignettes – two dialogues and two monologues – cover very different territory. The first is of long-standing unrequited love following one special (and slightly obsessive) first date. Second is a young couple in the push-pull final stages of their relationship. They're struggling with the difficulties of intimate communication, losing yourself in a relationship, and the concept that love is not enough. In the third, we become the partner in a nostalgic recount of our relationship's transition from homonormative "playing in the garden" to "dancing in a glorious underground castle" following our gender reassignment. The final vignette is a rapid and passionate fall through lust into love, the morning after what could have been a one-night stand.
Kotryna Gesait, who wrote and directed The Cocoon, is clearly a major talent and one to watch. Her writing is exquisite. Dialogue is smart but natural, and peppered with hilarious asides to the closely-packed audience. Philosophy is woven seamlessly amongst small talk, so you barely notice when a conversation has turned down a darker alleyway. Gesait perfectly captures a handful of the many and varied emotional rollercoasters we may ride on the path to love. Gesait somehow stirs up in one short hour all of the longing, the impassioned, the pure, the raging, the out of control, invigorating and despairing imperfections that make love, love.
The writing is brought to life by some fabulous acting from Phoebe Taylor, William Servinis, Lacinda McLaughlin, Roy Barker, Cindel Waddington and Claire Sara. Each is brilliant, but the standout for me is Taylor. Perhaps I'm biased (she had me at "Fucking Disney"), but her warmth and humour shone so strongly, I wanted to jump right into her story and play her bestie. "He" and "She", the love-crazy young couple, brought so many understanding chuckles and glances between former strangers that you'd think we were all looking straight in the mirror at our own failed attempts.
I could go on, but all you really need to hear is this – if you love love, you’ll love The Cocoon. Wrap yourself in its perfect imperfection before it's too late.