On Cry in the Wilderness’ Conundrum at the Newham Unlocked Online Festival
In a lockdowned theatre of the mind, a man dances with fate across darkness,
Twisting his thoughts through the fire of the truly demonic world he’s endured.
His is a wilderness cry of the sort to which everyone can bare witness.
And yet at a time of war with the air and with reason here is a wound
Hope can cure. As the conundrum of self in Paul Antony Morris’ play
And production finds a scarred Angel breaking through sanity’s web,
Winds secured. Or rather torn and secured as performer Anthony Ofoegbu’s
Entranced, thrashing spirit finds grace in defeat and true beauty, as each skill,
Sense and talent keeps this sanctified struggle bright. In fact more than bright,
For here is a solo supernova, scorching the hole fate devours in order to reshape
And retrace ruined light. Subject to the state, from medicine back to his education,
An inevitable ECT charge in flashing becomes a signal call for repair, in which
The sainted sufferer sees that in the end he is choices, and that he can survive
All that threatens now that the possible thread of a future can be woven at last
To grant care. By retracing his steps, he quickly renegotiates shadow;
Dancing to dispel the sharp darkness and to soften it soon for his touch.
So the man weaves, to blanket the night that until this time commandeered him,
And in which he, as soul’s soldier in fighting for years saw too much.
And felt too much, too, at the careless hands of those others who attacked
And obstructed and who in time sought his end. For here is a childhood
Ransacked amidst experience and its litter, as a black boy wrenched by madness
And crushed by each racists weight lost all sense
Of what he was and could be
Until the Lockdown allowed him to enter the past and to salvage
The best of the self left behind. There is the rub, and there again,
The conundrum: at a time of retreat and secretion here is a chance
To ascend across time. First in this beautifully lit abstract space,
Artfully designed, arranged, filmed, and directed by Morris to show
That our landscapes can be reshaped if we seal
The divisions we feel
In our shattered minds and perceptions, confronting all of those
Who’d condemn as the Coronic claim warps the real. Here, Ofoegbu’s
Strength is our strength as he sucks the sin from us, highlighting the blame
Bred by others at a BLM time, he’s a cause, speaking out for all shades
Who are suffering through this sour with racism seen as an illness
So much more corrosive than chaos beyond or behind each closed door.
The piece has become political, and more musical too, without music
In the accepted sense. Here, a soundscape is like a breath on the breeze
We’d exhale. As Ofoegbu scales lives and lies and finds the truth of real
Passion, expended by performer, creator and the force in the flag
Hope’s ship sails. For here is the story of one man adrift that suddenly
Becomes every story. Here is grace, danger, anger, prayer and appeal,
Song and skin that a broken heart sings in a voice of both range
And precision, and from an actor who enobles the words of his writer
And what his director’s aims wish to bring; which is a fresh understanding
In us in how we resist all oppression, whether the fault of ourselves
Or those others out to destroy the first race. For the true children of the sun
Are not us, they are the people of colour. It is they who should teach us.
And so they teach us here, with such grace. The conundrum is clear
And can be heard in all rhythms. Ofoegbu and Morris play for us.
In this online festival, in this hope and heart marketplace.
Which fires burn after the ghosts in smoke have receded?
Those of the loves that first made us. It is here in the air,
Words and feeling and in the beauty of this actor’s stare,
Stance and face.
In the heat to come we’ll all burn
But one feels that this Conundrum will cure us.
But first we must see it. Scour your screens.
Cure finds place.
David Erdos August 14th 2020
Photo: Florian Bel of Gmni Creative Agency, 2020