Wake & Sing
An out of work comedian is trying, via an online conversation, to reassure his mother that he is, if not prospering, at least not starving during lockdown. His main source of income sounds, to an objective listener, to be in dubious taste. Having claimed to be an ordained reverend, he is organising online wakes for grieving families who, due to lockdown, are not able to attend a physical service. Despite the reassurances to his mother, it is hard to avoid the feeling the ability of the comedian to comfort grieving families may not match his aspirations.
Matt Zambrano, who creates and performs in Wake & Sing, produces a quality piece of work. The opening, filmed in atmospheric black and white, captures the dull desperation of being stuck in lockdown without a purpose. Zambrano mimes daily activities—phone calls, drinking coffee—in an increasingly frantic manner before being forced out of his boredom and splashing into activity as the screen bursts into full colour.
The script is full of deadpan humour and great lines—people are grieving, and we should grieve together, alone. The most striking feature is, however, a strong sense of ambiguity. Zambrano plays a morally compromised character who is at best self-deluding and at worse deliberately deceptive.
Zambrano may have convinced himself the wakes he organises serve a purpose other than just gaining him a pay cheque, yet the extracts from the events demonstrate his abilities are nowhere near what is required to comfort those in mourning. On one occasion, an inappropriate image plays throughout the service and his sermons, far from being inspiring, are cringeworthy compilations of pop lyrics.
The uncertainty about Zambrano’s motives is so strong that, when he offers to help a friend of his mother, you wonder if the offer is sincere or if he is just trying to secure another customer.
Wake & Sing is a refreshing play: darkly funny and ambiguous enough to leave viewers feeling a little uncomfortable.
Reviewer: David Cunningham