Monday, 9 July 2018

Things We Choose To Save - HOME, Manchester.




Clown Funeral are a theatre company based in the West Midlands, who combine devising and new writing together to create non-conforming, darkly comic plays. While I wouldn't frame tonight's show as darkly comic, I would say Things We Choose To Save is darkly fascinating. So, here we are. We have jumped ten years into the future, to a world where our thoughts are no longer our own. People have messed with mother nature as our memories can now be documented and played back in a vivid and all too real manner. This is thanks to an advancement in modern technology.

Vic is in charge of a booming business, which can record, store, and replay memories. He possesses a money-making attitude towards this business, rather than seeing the cultural value that such a service could offer; transforming people's lives for the better. Molly is one of the best workers in the company, she regularly accesses thousands of people's memories on a daily basis. Her sister, Billie is the latest client for the company. To earn money, Billie is willing to sell a private and incriminating memory, involving her father. She has no idea about the world she has fallen into.

An opening speech, delivered with stern authority by the actor playing Vic, charted how we have documented memories over time. From cave paintings to photos to film. The play placed an emphasis on what's next? There has always got to be something bigger and better to replace what's been done before. Now there was an opportunity to capture memories digitally and experience them in a fourth dimensional quality. Private thoughts were made public in a nightmarish look into an unsettling future.

The story seemed to imply that exposed memories could potentially be used as credible evidence for a negative purpose. For example, to blackmail or exploit someone, or be used in a scandal. However, isn't this problematic? Can we (or even a court of law) declare that a played back memory may be used as legitimate evidence to prove something? Memory is not like a recorded video, it is fickle. A memory can change over time, be influenced by emotion, or external factors. You can invent a memory that didn't happen. Maybe it didn't matter in the circumstance of the story because this was about the possibility of exposing Billie's father's wrongdoing through a journalistic context. It's easy to spread gossip and stories based on superficial evidence. Although, I feel this was one minor detail which was overlooked in the writing of the play.

There was excellent acting from all four performers, they took into consideration the intimacy of the Theatre 2 space, and gently drew us into this alluring story. The performers worked well as an ensemble in the smooth transitions from scene to scene. When ever a memory was played, the stage was dark, except for the shining torches on the faces of the actors. This looked beautifully eerie. The music was brilliantly suspenseful, but I didn't feel it featured enough, and it left me wanting more. Despite lacking any real suspense overall, this was an enthralling play that asked what if this was the future? And, what would the consequences be?

Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 8/7/18

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