Blind Tasting – The beautiful errors of mankind. (Theatre Review)
Subtlenuance Theatre Company
The Old 505 Theatre, You can grab your tickets here.
Recollection is the act of placing us before life and before experience as if we are standing before a painting slowly revealed, displaying an event in a certain way that is not exact but almost exactly the way we lived it. Similar to philosophy, we think the event must be interpreted correctly in order to reach a conclusion about ourselves. It is assumed that the event can reveal something to us about ourselves. Yet, we know from metaphysics that there is no correlation between the actual world and what we think the world is, and any conclusion drawn from our own observations of our self about our self is inherently and absolutely to be rejected. It is this concept of the real, the perceived, the past and the present that Paul Gilchrist examines in Blind Tasting. Sophie (Sylvia Keays in what is surely her signature role) is consecutively in the present, the past, in analysis and in response. She exists in an observation of the ephemeral that changes its nature as she speaks it. For Paul Gilchrist, Blind Tasting is life, the bittersweet pain of response and the intangible nature of experience. Sophie speaks about her past as she is still becoming and therefore as it is still becoming. Her past is not a snapshot and therefore not regarded as a fixed magnitude and therefore from which one might draw a conclusion as to the originator or even to reject any conclusions. Sophie’s year – the year about which she speaks – is the result of a host of errors and fantasies which have gradually arisen. Her year isn’t over, even though she can speak about it as being past. It still evokes itself, lives in her, informs and transforms all her possibilities for the future.
Paul Gilchrist in this way, opens up an anti-nihilistic marvelous and new (and at the same time terrible and ironic) relationship with the totality of existence as Sophie stands before us with her knowledge. Sophie discovers for herself, as do each of us, that prehistory lives on, works on, loves on, hates on inside herself. We watch Sophie and wake to the dream that we are dreamers and that we have to go on dreaming or we will be destroyed – that is, we will have nothing to live for. Nietzsche describes this as the sleep walker who has to go on dreaming in order not to fall. Who is Sophie then, who is Sylvia Keays and who are we in the act of living itself which goes far enough in its self-mockery as to allow me to feel, in the midst of everything, that nothing exists but my appearance amid the endless dance of my spirit? Paul Gilchrist takes wine, that blessed bacchanalian promise to dreamers amongst dreamers spinning out their earthly dance, allowing us to taste, for that brief moment, the idea that knowledge is the preservation of the universality of dreaming and the mutual intelligibility of all dreamers and through us all the continuity of the dream. When Sophie leaves dry land, and takes to her ship, we all burn the land behind us, and stand with her in an endless ocean, staring into the impossible nothingness of infinity and being secretly grateful through our fear of our death and the deaths of others for the stability of some sort of end to it all.
The combination of the poetry of Paul Gilchrist and the wine offered part way through Sylvia Keays’ performance awakens the longing for life that draws us, the longing that is worth more to us than any pleasure. We hear and feel Sophie’s year as if it were our own, and at the same time we wonder about our safe land the endlessness of the sea around us. For to understand another person is to imitate their feelings in ourselves and endlessly return to cause, over and over, to stand before ourselves and others as if before a painting and wonder at the painter. We have arranged for our self a world in which we are able to live. We live in and construct this world as we disappear into Sophie’s story. This world contains the postulation of lines, bodies, surfaces, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content. Without these articles, none of us could endure to live. We construct them as we listen to Sophie, even as she is constructed by our listening. Yet this does not mean these lives, our life, is something to be proven and demonstrated. Life is not an argument, nor is it ideology. These are merely the events we use to fill life. For Paul Gilchrist, moving Sophie and in and out of time is to blur the lines between how Sophie sees herself, how he creates her and how we create her for him and for us. Sophie is real, but only because we agree to make her so. And when we do, we feel ourselves being made.
Blind Tasting is a beautiful piece of intimate theatre. Constantly reemerging in response to demand, Sylvia Keays is superb as the philosophical Sophie laying her all bare for us to mirror. Originally written for this actress, Blind Tasting brings out the best in Sylvia Keays allowing her to shine and deeply connect with the audience. This particular production at the old 505 Theatre is directed by the writer, with sound and lighting by Daniela Georgie. It’s Blind Tasting at its best, and the perfect way to catch up with the piece if you have not been fortunate enough to have seen it previously.
Don’t miss it this time around, if you have not seen it before. It is the pulsing, living answer to the nihilism of our new year.