– by Tom Munday
Murray St and Wolf Lane’s spectacular bar/restaurant The Cheeky Sparrow is just like Fringe World itself: slightly peculiar but wholly entertaining. The atmospheric venue, labyrinthine creation of winding staircases and lively bar areas, was buzzing with happy patrons filling up on alluring food and drink.
The stage and seating areas, pushed into one half of the venue’s top floor, struggled to contend with anyone over 5-feet tall. The surrounding bar area and low ceilings forced audience members to share awkward eyeliners and pleasantries. Thankfully, the ensuing darkness blocked everyone but the performers from view.
Written by Jackson Used and Ben Thomas, Wake and Bake depicts a relatable, somewhat clichéd situation ripe with comedic and dramatic meat worth tearing off the bone. After an oddly placed THX “BWAAHH” sound, One character, Harry, launches into a scintillating monologue comparing the merits of dessert ingredients with the average familial structure. Any production referring to anything as: “Millennia on Battlefield 2 levels of dessert” will hook a comfortable Fringe crowd.
The story, set on a barmy November 6th, soon launches into a steamy tirade over the rights and wrongs of sibling relationships. Harry and his girlfriend, Ellie, set the table a long-awaited family reunion after her father’s death. Set the day after the wake, it acutely focuses on Ellie contending with her long lost, post-rehab older brother, James, her immature, hung-over, and underwhelming young brother, Miles.
Before the character come close to ripping each other apart, Wake and Bake develops and uncompromising examination of the modern household. Presenting itself as a bogan-upper-middle-class August: Osage County, this production delivers enough funny-because-its-true moments to keep any audience excited.
Of course, it would not be entertaining without a few peculiar occurrences thrown in. Harry’s harebrained schemes lead to disastrous consequences for his identity and immediate physical health. Miles, taking on the soul of his recently deceased dog Rocky, refuses to take off his yellow, Pluto-esque onesie. Amongst the saucy revelations, hysterical revelations, dysfunctional family politics, and familiar plot-points lies a 4X-Gold style glow of optimism and cheekiness.
The little things make the difference between genuine and cheesy: beer poured into a woeful batch of cake mix, the realistic amount of swearing between three, twenty/thirty-something siblings, a spirited game of charades destroyed by important emotional breakthroughs. Oddly enough, these comforting tidbits, like in reality, are worth taking away from the already fearless Wake and Bake experience.