The Nature of Forgetting
Shoreditch Town Hall
Reviewed – 26th April 2018
“The music cleverly shifts from harmonious and symphonic to distorted and warped”
The Nature of Forgetting devised by Theatre Re focuses on the memories of Tom, aged 55, living with early onset dementia. The play begins on his birthday with his daughter, Sophie helping him get dressed for his party. We then move back and forth through Tom’s memories, from his school days, to his wedding to his childhood sweetheart, Isabella, to the birth of his daughter. There is very little dialogue and instead the piece uses music and movement to tell the story.
All the performers are extremely talented and adept, particularly in physical theatre. Louise Wilcox is fantastic as Isabella, Tom’s wife, and also as Sophie, his daughter. Eygló Belafonte plays Emma, Tom’s childhood friend, and also his mother, Mrs Denis and brings a lot of comedy to both characters. The role of Tom’s school friend and best man, Mike, is played by Matthew Austin and he moves effortlessly between characters and also provides some of the show’s most comic moments. The star of the show is of course, Tom himself played by Guillaume Pigé, who also conceived and directed the show. Pigé throws himself entirely into the role and does a beautiful job of portraying a man’s desperate attempt to cling to his memories as they warp and twist around him. We get the sense that Tom is trying to hold everything in his head and life together, but that it is becoming increasingly difficult.
This sense of distortion of memory is reflected in the music, which is provided by a live band at the back of the stage featuring Alex Judd and Chris Jones. The music cleverly shifts from harmonious and symphonic to distorted and warped to signify when Tom is struggling to remember something, or when a memory, which seemed vivid and solid, starts to transform and fade. The musicians are very accomplished and the music is beautiful, but at times it feels overly sentimental as though the audience are being told how they are supposed to be feeling.
Set and prop makers, Tim Highman and Andreas Velasquez should be commended for their flexible and movable design, which is simple but effective. The set features two large clothing racks, three old-fashioned school desks, some chairs and a fabulous stationary bike which is brought on for one beautiful scene. Katherine Graham’s lighting design is also worth mentioning. The way the lights focus on different parts of the stage seem to mirror the gaps in Tom’s memory.
Overall, The Nature of Forgetting is a heartwarming, physically impressive show. Its lack of dialogue not only makes it engaging but also extremely accessible, especially for those who are hard of hearing, who don’t speak English, or for younger audiences.
Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com
Photography by Danilo Moroni
The Nature of Forgetting
Shoreditch Town Hall until 28th April