In Rocko and Nakota: Tales From the Land, expert storyteller Josh Languedoc takes his audience on a journey into mental illness and the healing power of stories. This one--man show, in which Languedoc switches with remarkable prowess between multiple characters, explores young Nakota’s struggle to grapple with his demons, both internal and external. Rocko and Nakota gifts audiences with traditional and contemporary stories about resilience and becoming your own hero.
Stuck in a hospital with an undiagnosed illness that causes sporadic fainting spells, grade schooler Nakota is sure he is on the verge of death. In an attempt to find solace, he turns to the stories of the Marvel universe and tries, in vain, to come up with his own original superhero. One day, in the midst of his frustration, Nakota receives a visitor, his grandfather Rocko, who has come to dispense wisdom in his hour of need. Rocko brings with him stories of their tribe and the promise that Nakota has inherited the strength necessary to overcome any challenge.
The stories Rocko tells are as fantastical as they are reassuring. The recurrent image of The Raven harkens the coming tide of death as well as rebirth, the need to lean into darkness in order to find the light. Elsewhere, The Raven teaches the importance of foregoing fear and sharing one’s gifts with the world. With the telling of each story, Nakota learns valuable lessons about integrity, perseverance, and courage in the face of adversity.
Languedoc performs each story with climactic energy. At the drop of a hat he changes between the portrayal of a young boy riddled with angst and fear, to the wizened and humorous Rocko, to the legendary heroes of Nakota’s grandfather’s stories. Opting for a stage entirely void of decoration, the play brings full, unadulterated focus upon its lone actor, allowing the stories and the characters that emerge therein to arrest the audience’s full attention. A simple though highly effective use of lighting cues the audience into the rapid transitions between Rocko’s stories and Nakota’s present, creating an overall seamless production. Watching Rocko and Nakota makes one feel lucky to partake in Languedoc’s rich, inspiring stories, as well as his masterful use of the stage, as he brings each striking narrative to life.
Rocko and Nakota: Tales From the Land runs through Sept. 16th at Waterfront Theatre, 1412 Cartwright Street. Tickets and remaining showtimes for can be found here.