If you’ve ever loved a food with your whole being, eating it probably felt like a divine experience, a communion with God. The Coconut Collective Clan have taken their love a step further and constructed a religion around the magnificent coconut. Intrigued?
Loosely based off the Coconut Kingdom founded in 1963 by Nguyen Thanh Nam, the CCC is an off-shoot of three members on an island in the Pacific. Their days consist of gathering coconuts, growing more coconuts, eating coconut, drinking coconut milk, and making things out of the coconut husks left over. As part of their religion, they read from their coconut manifesto, meditate and pray to the coconut, and discuss the philosophical teachings of Nguyen Thanh Nam. But, unfortunately, their collective is dwindling and they now must venture into the wider world to host recruitment conferences in the hope of bringing more people back to their island to bolster the CCC.
Directed by Nicolas Angelosanto, Coconut Collective Clan is a wild and unpredictable ride into the lives of Coco (Jennifer Laycock), Nut (Johanna Lyon), and Coconut (pronounced Jen; Shannon Maugham). Incorporating each member’s backstory, the recruitment presentation traces the trajectory of the CCC from its origin to its current predicament where clan members are marrying coconut trees but are still unable to reproduce, the CCC members have a life expectancy of 27, and they’re struggling to protect their precious coconuts from neighbouring islands.
Throughout the presentation, the members attempt to persuade interested attendees to join the CCC by disparaging their current careers, performing near-miracles, and letting the coconut choose their divine power. They also have a slide presentation. Unfortunately, personal issues interfere with the integrity of their worship and the audience witnesses the very foundation of the CCC crumbling in front of their eyes.
The three performers are committed and convincing as their CCC personas. Coco is a demanding and domineering pseudo-leader, Nut is a devout but perhaps naive follower, and Coconut couldn’t shake the doubt that led to her demise. The three have an overzealous and full-on dynamic that amps up the physical humour of the production with added quirks like mispronunciations and the odd side-eye. Their enthusiasm and overly cheerful characterisations play well with the zealot satire and provides ample opportunity for unexpected laughter.
Coconut Collective Clan is a compelling argument for letting go of a life that’s holding you down and committing yourself entirely to the one substance that has never disappointed. Though, experiences may vary.
Coconut Collective Clan ran at City Tattersalls Fringe Hub from September 25th – 29th as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival