Reviews - Fringe 2017

Awoken

By Daniel O.W. Smith
Published July 24, 2016

  • Playwright: Nicholas (Dave) Amott
  • Director: Brennan Richardson
  • Cast: Nicholas (Dave) Amott
  • Warnings: Mature Content
  • Show Type: Drama, Science Fiction
  • Audience: Mature
  • Running Time: 60 minutes
  • The program of impressive one-man feat Awoken mentions fatal familiar insomnia (FFI), a rare, mysterious, and terrifying inherited disease which, according to Wikipedia, causes a four-stage mental deterioration characterized primarily by chronic insomnia that does not respond to sleeping pills, resulting in eventual death.

    The tiny subset of the population with a diagnosis of FFI typically lasts little more than two years before succumbing to the disease, with some dying just months after onset.

    The specifics of FFI shouldn't matter all that much to an audience watching Awoken, though the play is apparently inspired by a true story, and the struggles of the sleep-deprived protagonist become much more dramatic in that context.

    We watch Todd Silvano, played by Nicholas Dave Amott (who also conceived the play), struggle through a subconscious reeling out of control, living all of life in a twilight state, seemingly resigned to his fate but determined to sift through his dreams for some way to bestow meaning on an otherwise disappointing life.

    The dark, convoluted mystery of dreams is effectively portrayed on stage, all the more impressive given that Amott handles all lighting himself, jumping from lamp to lamp, often pulling out a flashlight and directing the beam at the audience, himself, or the floor, always with an apparent purpose.

    As creative conceptually as this is, and as exhausting as it must be to carry out, at times it seemed a little too taxing on the performer. But mostly captivating nonetheless.

    In one memorable instance, Amott plays an absurd parody of a fast food worker manning a counter lit up by bright yellow light, while simultaneously portraying a befuddled Todd. "Was that cash register always here?" he asks, as the cashier tallies up a nonexistent order.

    For those wary of an hourlong observation of one man's fatal dream state, don't worry: Awoken can also be very funny, like recounting a nightmare that, explained out loud, suddenly becomes hilarious.

    Daniel O.W. Smith is a writer and editor who lives in Hamilton and comes from Maine. Feel free to get in touch via email.

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