Old Fitzroy Theatre, February 28. Until March 11

First cab off the rank in the Old Fitzroy’s New Fitz season, Charles O'Grady’s poignant two-hander is an absorbing study of a relationship under stress.

Daniel Monks and Aleks Mikic in Are We Awake?

Sydney, pre-dawn and Endymion (Aleks Mikic) is preparing to catch an early plane to Melbourne for a job interview. Watching from the bed as Endymion packs his bag is his chronically ill partner, Hypnos (Daniel Monks), for whom the prospect of change is profoundly disquieting.

Prone to seizures during sleep and wracked by incapacitating pain, he relies on Endymion’s vigilance 24/7. The longer term is even more troubling. Hypnos feels he can’t move to Melbourne, away from his doctors and circle of friends. Endymion, meanwhile, struggles to balance the roles of lover, full time carer and provider.

The works in The New Fitz season are all inspired by, or responding to, the plays programmed into the main season. Are We Awake speaks to David Hare’s The Judas Kiss, though not in any obvious way. Squint and you might discern similar tensions existing in the dynamics of the two relationships, however.

Wilde also wrote a gusher of a poem, Endymion, its final verse filled with the floridly expressed feelings of abandonment: “The falling dew is cold and chill, And no birds sing in Arcady, The little fauns have left the hill, Even the tired daffodil Has closed its gilded doors, and still My lover comes not back to me.” 

In Act II of The Judas Kiss, Hare’s Wilde is a broken man, too, his body wrecked on a prison treadmill.

See both plays and make your own connections. Or enjoy Are We Awake as a short stand-alone work, a deftly observed and touchingly performed portrait of contemporary lives and insecurities with resonances for all.

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