Adelaide Fringe 2012
Sophie is witty, whimsical character who flits through life and experiences the disappointments, heartbreak, friendships, and lessons that are all too prevalent and familiar in life. She narrates her stories with flair, using wine and her blind tasting skills as metaphors for how we approach things and experience life. She encourages the audience to join her on a journey through various bottles, vintages, and varieties to realise that not all of life’s lessons are a good drop or a memorable keepsake. However, the most important theme that runs through the night is that in order to find that perfect balance of flavours, the evocative aromas, and the pleasurable finish we need to keep tasting and trying different wines without judging them by their label—a profound metaphor for life.
Sophie is a sparkling character who is not afraid to enter the room with a blindfold on, feeling her way around the audience. She is young, but experienced an extraordinary amount of life and is wise beyond her years. She takes the audience to her dead-end job where she meets an eclectic woman who becomes a close friend despite their obvious differences. Together they take a cruise where Sophie finds love and all the wonder and fantasy that comes with a holiday romance. Nonetheless, what started out as a fling turns into a serious relationship that exposes the harsh realities of compromise and planning for the future. The ultimate truth is that even the best-laid plans go awry, and having no plans can lead you to the utmost delights and heartbreak at the same time.
Sylvia Keays is a brilliant performer and embraces the role of Sophie wholeheartedly. She gives an honest performance and captures the audience with her enactment. She unashamedly tells a story that could very well be her own and is not afraid to use the audience to her advantage and connecting with them. Her jokes and jibes get a response every time; she gives a moving, consistent and quality performance that is a joy to watch.
The heady atmosphere of the Medina tunnels creates an intimate atmosphere coupled with the candles and wine. The lighting is used sparingly to change scenes and settings, and staging and direction is minimal given the limited space. The script is playful, witty and poetic throughout, although at times the poetry and metaphors feel forced and unnatural given that this is a contemporary play with authentic characters and dialogues. The philosophy reverberates but is not thrust at the audience in an obvious manner. Sophie’s story has clever transitions through the stages of her life and relationships with her friend and boyfriend. There are a number of morals and advice on making the most out of life experiences and anticipating what’s to come without judgement but they are not preached to the audience. Rather, they are cleverly reflected on and pondered in a rhetorical sense.
Blind Tasting is a captivating personal account of a woman’s experience of love, loss and finding pleasure in unexpected places. Keays was thoroughly entertaining and connected with the audience with her stories and appreciation of wine. The wine tasting was a bonus accompaniment and made the evening altogether more enjoyable and intimate.