An Anecdote of Cognisance
A collaborative work written, directed and starred in by Emma Pynenburg, Mairaed Roache, Jack Simpson, Lili Pedrazzini and Alexandra Winning.
Woolloongabba Art Gallery, 613 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba
This show’s run has finished.

This team of QACI students invites us to come inside the mind of an author (or any artist really) and asks a few of their burning questions about art vs. reality.

Photo by Krystal Beazley
Photo by Krystal Beazley

Sam (Simpson) is a young author. He has thrown himself into his novel over the past months, and his relationship with his wife, Connie (Pynenburg), has deteriorated since. As his obsession with perfection continues to force him deeper into the creative process, his characters are lifted from their pages into his office, and the lines between his fiction, the world of the play, and, ultimately, our world, are increasingly torn down. Petunia (Winning) is refined and neat, Comet (Roache) is childish and curious, and Victoria (Pedrazzini) is something of a cynical drunk. The fictional characters seek cognisance, and believe that by finding the fourth character, Constance, they will achieve it. Constance, we discover, is the transcendent Connie, existing within the novel as Sam wishes she could be: attentive, patient and agreeable.

Constance, who doesn’t seem to quite fit the character mould, brings the other characters to the possibility that their God, Sam, is not a figure of power, but simply a character in another story. This awareness of their existence allows them power over him, and he ends up seemingly being defeated by Connie/Constance.

A massive amount of credit is due to these young performers, who seized the opportunity to take part in the Festival this year and present their own work in this public forum. It was truly inspiring to see this next generation of artists begin to stretch their wings, and they all have magnificent things ahead of them. The text that they had put together had some extremely strong elements, particularly pertaining to the complex themes that they tackled. It was meta, existential and intimate, which is super cool. Still, it did struggle with being a little crowded. If anything it would have benefitted from being a longer show, to allow the themes, characters and relationships more time to naturally flow through the text.

Photo by Krystal Beazley
Photo by Krystal Beazley

The performances were good, particularly of the characterisations of the three archetypes (Roache, Pedrazzini and Winning) all of whom were confident, capable, and complete in their transformations. Simpson and Pynenburg had a more difficult story to tell, and they also did well. Their most impressive moment, however, was actually in their use of a movement piece to demonstrate Sam’s struggle for control over Connie. Tying red strings to their wrists, they performed a simple and beautiful piece that easily demonstrated the relationships of the characters, and fitted excellently into the flow of the show. It was an excellent demonstration of the effectiveness of movement in theatre.

Photo by Krystal Beazley
Photo by Krystal Beazley

Overall this was a fascinating concept, script and execution. There were aspects that could be honed and expanded upon to become more effective at demonstrating the themes and tale, but it was still an enjoyable, thought-provoking performance by the group.