Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Nature Of Forgetting - The Lowry Theatre, Salford.

After watching what was a captivating performance, I read the programme and found out that Theatre Re's name comes from the prefix 're'. 'Re' as in re-discovering and re-imagining theatre, and they did this tonight.

The story is about Tom, who is living with early onset dementia. He struggles to complete the simplest of tasks, including  getting dressed for his 55th birthday party. The audience are taken on a journey inside Tom's weakening mind, which presents to us fragments of his life and what he can still remember.

This is a theatre company that have established their own trademark style, using physical theatre, mime, live music, and hardly any dialogue to communicate the narrative. Every single production element was surreptitiously orchestrated to convey Tom's internal experience of events. We watched him trying to keep his mind on track, struggling to hold onto every trace of his memory, and persevering to remember something that was on the tip of his tongue. Due to the prominence of a physical style and less text, there were some scenes that had a partial ambiguity to them. I liked this because it compelled us to fill the gaps in the story and form links, and in doing so tap into Tom's thought process.

Guillaume Pige's portrayal of Tom revealed enormous vulnerability and assiduity, as he continuously gestured to himself to stay on his train of thought. You can tell how their research on memory and amnesia has informed his performance and the overall piece. The ensemble, who played various characters in the play, performed the slick choreography with precision. This performance has built up it's own exquisite language of movement.

The set included lots of clothes on a hanging rail, which represented different roles Tom had played in his life and the various people he had encountered. A number of desks and chairs were used to present multiple locations from a bar, to a classroom, to a bedroom.

Katherine Graham's lighting was concerned with extremity. Most of the time the lighting was low level, soft, almost fading away to a blackout. But, occasionally it dazzled us at times of emotional intensity.

Music by Alex Judd took us on Tom's emotional journey in his life. When he felt isolated and alone, the prolonged and piercing high-pitched chord was spine-tingling. What I thought was innovative was the use of the pitch bend whenever memories slipped away. Harmonious music became discordant.

In summary, there were heartbreaking and poignant moments within this play, but also snippets of theatrical magic. The stage became a tangled web of thoughts, where memories and moments were incomplete, and the music was as breathtaking as the moments of silence.

Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 12/6/18

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