The Nature of Forgetting | Review

The Nature of Forgetting | Review

The MAC, Belfast • Show runs until 03 June ’18

By Chantelle Frampton

We’ve all had those moments where we walk into a room and forget why we did it.  No matter how hard we try to remember or backtrack our thoughts, we just can’t figure out why we did it.  Theatre Re’s The Nature of Forgetting explores the concept of memory on a larger scale as it tackles the topic of dementia.  The continuous question at the forefront of the play is ‘What do we do when we no longer have our memories?’  What makes us who we are if we don’t have our past?  Their exploration of the fractured mind is both emotional and thought-provoking.

The play delves into these themes with a nearly entire absence of speech.  As described by director and actor Guillaume Pigé what they do can be described as “Movement theatre, a type of theatre that relies mainly on movement and actions on stage to communicate.”  The play starts off with Tom getting ready for his 55th birthday.  From the beginning, we can see that he is struggling with simple tasks and short-term memory.  However, we are suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of Tom’s past as his memories fight to the forefront of his mind.

We catch glimpses of major events in Tom’s life including his school days where he meets his wife Isabella, his wedding day and the birth of his daughter.  The musical composition, composed by Alex Judd, perfectly reflects the emotions and fragmentation of these scenes.  Throughout the performance, we can accurately see the disintegrating of the memories as the music frequently becomes distorted and confused (this is particularly noticeable during Tom’s wedding day).  We are constantly questioning what we see in front of us.  Is Tom a reliable narrator and how much can we trust what we’re seeing?  The memories are from his own perspective, so we’re witnessing a personal recollection of the past as opposed to accurate occurrences.

The four actors: Louise Wilcox, Eygló Belafonte, Matthew Austin and Guillaume Pigé commanded The Mac throughout the entire performance.  Their ability to portray so much emotion through movement and mime was nothing short of amazing.  The constant changing of timelines was both coherent and chaotic.  There were moments that were incredibly energetic on stage and yet it would end with an abrupt silence.  We would then be thrown back to a short yet recurring moment in Tom’s life that is clearly a core memory.  The fluidity juxtaposed with moments of abruptness correlated perfectly with the physical representation of memory and dementia.

The Nature of Forgetting managed to pack a lot into an hour and fifteen minutes.  There are moments where you will laugh, cry and then reflect on your own personal experiences.  The play had a huge emotional impact and demonstrated that even in the bleakest of situations, there is always a bit of hope.  Theatre Re received a standing ovation on Thursday night and it was entirely deserved.  The show runs until 03 June, GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

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