A PARADISE YET TO BE

Photo © Sarah Hickson

 

                  A reflection on Cry in the Wildnerness’ showcase production CONUNDRUM,

                                                 Arcola Theatre, London  6th October 2017

 

 

 

Theatre’s alive; from first blush to end fever;

A concise recollection of what it means to be new,

And so the showcase begins for writer director

Paul Anthony Morris’ Conundrum, prime source of belief

For its actor dancer musicians and their treasured search

For the truth. Anthony Ofoegbu’s astride a timely phase

In his acting; Soyinka, Berkoff, a  glamourised RSC

And he brings more to this tale than anyone else

Yet encountered, with a sense of youth over fifty,

And a matchless and pure energy. Representing

Morris’ drive, Ofoegbu charts the fast journey

Of the gifted child in a climate that no longer knows

What to prize. Scarred by school, scared by life,

A montage of bullying sounds greets his miming

As if Fidel; cause and subject, as child of us all

Breathes each strife. His suffering is intense,

With the soul within set for boiling. With steam for tears

His heart’s fire glazes everyone watching now in this room.

The small Arcola’s locale being merely the first place

For birthing before grander theatres and classes of the mind

Brave this doom. Mental health is the key that opens the hidden door

To our living. Our ignorance of it, our misunderstanding of it

Does  us down. Conundrum shows how the mad in being maligned

Define spirit, that inner resource we should learn from

If we are the capture high colour from the surrounding earth’s

Muddied brown.  Fidel dances himself from the dirt

Of everyone else’s perception, accompanied by a music

That mixes free jazz with the stars; Sarangi, guitar, cello and trumpet,

Each sound, the soul’s echo as it tries to prise worth from the scar.

The story of a black man in white haze, the child’s expectation near kills him,

Ofoegbu’s eyes, his lead feature become those of the audience

As they weep for the opportunities crushed by the sudden death

Of his mother and the eloquence squandered as his way

With words achieves sleep. The brilliant child becomes mute

As he is suppressed and abandoned.  The earth sparked jazz

Singing for him as his exotic hands twist and turn.

Here then is one man with two accompanying actors

And players making a new total theatre that renders the

Mainstream one fit to burn. Here then, a fresh way

With which to express our hopes and desires,

A means to properly challenge another and alleviate

Each despair. Theatre as form, fusing all:

Making the writing of words, music’s sister,

By holding the same tone and value and restoring

Potent majesty to the air. A theatre of the soul

As has been titled by Morris, in which those who suffer

Undeniably seize our care. In this performance, each moment,

Each stage, has been artfully measured.

Everything is there for a reason that is in turn, justified.

Nothing superfluous here and nothing that shows the self serving,

Who have capitalised theatre ever once smeared this space.

We watch a man bound by life achieves the wings his wounds gave him.

Music and dance elevate him as the language of change shapes his face.

This is the project of worth for every street and arts council,

Just as every body’s official represents its own government,

At a time when the lead are monitored by the leaden

We must alter the hell we’ve grown used to

In order to become heaven sent. A paradise made from pain.

And a warning and call to those buried.

 

The true conundrum is open:

How can we all rise again?

 

The Cry in the wilderness made

By Morris, Ofoegbu and their colleagues

Honours those in decline and the gifted

Who we currently cannot see.

 

The theatre was dead.

But now it has been touched by an angel.

Celebrate and live through it.

Yours is a paradise yet to be.

 

David Erdos 8th October 2017

CONUNDRUM CAST AND CREW:

 

ANTHONY OFOEGBU: FIDEL

RACHEL SUMMERS: ENSEMBLE ROLES

STEPHEN RAMANHUGHES: ENSEMBLE ROLES

SURINDER SANDHU: SARANGI

SHANTI JAYASINHA: CELLO, TRUMPET

ROB LUFT: GUITAR

BYRON WALLEN: TRUMPET, CELLO, COMPOSER, MUSICAL DIRECTOR

SHANE SHAMBHU: MOVEMENT DIRECTOR/CHOREOGRAPHER

SARAH HICKSON: PHOTOGRAPHY

ROSEMARY LARYEA: PRODUCER

PAUL ANTHONY MORRIS: WRITER/DIRECTOR

 

 

WWW.CRYINGINTHEWILDERNESSPRODUCTIONS.COM

 


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