Edinburgh International Festival 2023
Absurdist theatre maker Geoff Sobelle presents an immersive performance offering a meditation on how and why we eat.
FOOD is a new absurdist play by creator, co-director, performer, and renowned provocative theatre maker and actor Geoff Sobelle, with Steve Cuiffo, magician and co-creator and Lee Sunday Evans co-director.
Known for several other shows internationally and at the Edinburgh International Festival, last year he presented Home where he and his cast built a house from the ground up every night and then invited audience members inside.
FOOD is playing at the Studio theatre at the 2023 Edinburgh International Festival in August. This show is about, well, food, but it’s also about wine that accompanies fine dining and until the story takes a turn, a sharp turn – we are taken into another time and place. Sobelle is known for his humour, a wry sense of humour, silent theatrical clown interactions with the audience, appetite for surprising the audience and for creating provocative immersive theatre.
Without sharing the entire story it is impossible not to give away small details about FOOD to understand the context. Think of this as a restaurant experience where thirty audience members in the front row are seated on three sides of at a giant square dinner table covered in a pristine white linen table cloth.with cutlery and a wine glass. The rest of the audience is located on three sides with rows of regular theatre seating. Above the vast expanse of a table is a giant chandelier, and on the empty side of the table is a wall with red velour wallpaper and a painting plus a few fine dining accoutrements that one would see in restaurant. This is Sobelle’s domaine.
However, this is an absurd situation and then the distinguished waiter appears and proceeds to carefully prepare his restaurant to start the service. A candle, and wine are part of the ritual and we are immersed in someone else’s world. Sobelle, the sole actor in this play is the waiter who does his best to help his customers appreciate his work and offerings.
With almost no words except murmurs or supremely quiet purring to a customer or two Sobelle’s discrete waiter takes orders and even prepares meals.However, this is not in the way you may be thinking, this is Sobelle’s creative strength. He swans around the table to complete his mission admirably even if strangely.
It is here that Sobelle’s imagination and passion are in full evidence as he digs deep to make a stand about society as we know it. The future is unknown and this is where Sobelle leaves us triumphantly. Isabella Byrd’s lighting design and sound design by Tei Blow complement the mood and bring this story to life.
Sobelle’s performance with perfect timing is outstanding with every moment perfectly enacted physically with a range of sublime subtlety to the dramatic, magical and mysterious visual storytelling.