Are We Awake, by Charles O’Grady | Directed by Sean Hawkins

Red Line Productions & Poor Toms | Old Fitz Theatre (https://www.oldfitztheatre.com), Woolloomooloo, Sydney | Until 11 March

Are We Awake commences the 2017 season of theatre at the Old Fitzroy — a season that opens with a remarkable play. It is remarkable for a number of reasons — its brevity for one, running at a pacey 45 minutes during which time it manages to deliver an intimate insight into a most romantic relationship between two young men.

Charles O’Grady’s play begins in the early hours of morning, when Hypnos (Daniel Monks) is in bed and obviously has recently woken up. His partner Endymion (Aleks Mikic) is packing for a flight to Melbourne where he hopes to begin a new job.

The plan — if all goes well — is that Hypnos will join him. But Hypnos has a disabling illness which renders him reliant on a support system of medical staff and social networks, and so, such a major change would be problematic.

This is a simple plot, but the characters at its foundation are complex and Charles O'Grady's understated script delivers a fly-on-the-wall look at a most complex bond and yet an everyday situation for many.

Sean Hawkin’s agile direction juggles the many multifaceted themes that writer O’Grady masterfully raises — the impact of disability on a relationship, the power and fragility of love to name just two.

As the perpetually fearful Hypnos, Daniel Monks was perfectly measured, understated and restrained in his portrayal bringing to the role a deep sense of realism, and equally, Aleks Mikic as Endymion, personifies stoicism as he struggles to balance the roles of lover and full-time carer and provider.

This is a heartfelt and very personal drama about the trauma of disability and dependence.

It is perfectly paced, manages to illuminate the essential and yet also casts a reflective and hypnotic spell upon those who are watching.

Are We Awake is perfectly suited to the intimate space at the Old Fitzroy and provided for me, a powerful and poetical theatrical experience. Thumbs up!

Daniel Monks and Aleks Mikic.