It was Anton Chekov, wasn’t it, who wrote one must never place a loaded rifle on stage if it isn’t going to go off.
In Patrick Kennedy’s production of Richard Foreman’s Sophia=(Wisdom): The Cliffs there’s a swing attached outside the wing. Will it swing into play?
And later there is a gun.
Not a play as such, or if so, an inside out play, Sophia=(Wisdom): The Cliffs is an experience that commences with a regency figure, powder wigged, rouged, frocked-up in frippery foppery, attended to by handmaids, in robotic choreography, who mask him up in a death’s head.
Aurally, there are bells and clangs, a boom crash opera with booming bass voice-over by the director and designer, Patrick Kennedy, a narration of sorts peppered with the rhythmic refrain, Not Now.
Kennedy’s theatrical philosophy is the capture of the absent present – the precise moment when you experience anything. In his director’s note in the show’s programme he states: Try explaining the show and how it made you feel to your friends afterwards and I promise you, you won’t be able to truly express it – good or bad.
If good and bad are merely constructs like east and west, mere points on a compass, then audiences will probably think both as they navigate this non narrative journey, north by north south.
Sophia=(Wisdom): The Cliffs is not an energetic play but the ensemble of actors, a baker’s dozen minus two, are engaging, their stillness spilling into silliness, their articulations absurd, creating static tableaux of surrealism.
Semiotics, semantics, and solipsism sway and slither through the piece, so fear Sophia if you want a cosy cardigan and slippers night out at the theatre.
Not here. Not now.
As for the swing, it comes into play to signal the end.
Not now. But then.
Patrick Kennedy Phenomenological Theatre Company presents
Sophia=(Wisdom): The Cliffs
by Richard Foreman
Director Patrick Kennedy
Venue: New Theatre | 542 King St, Newtown NSW
Dates: 10 – 27 January 2024