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Trygve Wakenshaw’s Nautilus

Feb 23, 2015

Trygve Wakenshaw is a multi-award-winning performer, having delighted past Adelaide Fringe audiences with Squidboy and Kraken (again showing this year in the Garden of Unearthly Delights).

His latest creation, Nautilus, is another combination of physical theatre and mime. Unfortunately, it lacks the comedic genius that audiences know, love and expect.

The show is a self-described “work-in-progress”, but such early stages of development need not see a live audience. It appeared to be 90 minutes of improvisation.

The audience is split down the middle of the room, facing each other in a catwalk set-up. There are sequences where Wakenshaw performs to one side and then the other, leaving solid blocks of boredom for half the audience at a time.

But there are laugh-out-loud moments – about 10-15 minutes throughout the show. Wakenshaw’s social-issues skits have Left-leaning-audience appeal, and his artful spitting of water as gunfire and then a foundation is hilarious, although it strongly depends on audience participation.

In fact, the entire show hinges on the audience’s enthusiasm, dramatic flair, and ability to pick up on cues and follow instructions. Audience members become an unstable lover, the voice of Jesus, motorbikes and whatever else occurs to Wakenshaw in the moment. Consequently, you can’t trust this account of the show. As Wakenshaw confesses at its conclusion, Nautilus is changing every night. It bends to outside influences and Wakenshaw’s every whim.

As it is now, Nautilus doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. However, Trygve Wakenshaw is a brilliant performer and has many successes under his belt. By the end of the 2015 Adelaide Fringe, Nautilus may have developed into a repertoire of audience-pleasing skits with a thematic or narrative arc.

Trygve Wakenshaw’s NAUTILUS – a work in progress is being performed in the Perske Pavilion, Tuxedo Cat, until March 15.

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