Reviewed – 1st July 2019
“the audience feels involved in the lives of these characters right from the start”
Past Perfect is a play about memory. It is a short, but effective script that explores a relationship between two people. It plays on the idea that we never quite remember the past as it actually happened, and when one partner has difficulty keeping track of time anyway, the stage is set for some lively disagreements about what happened on the day Gary met Nell, and the story of their relationship thereafter. As an additional complication, playwright Philip Holt presents us with three characters, two of them representing the memories of the woman Aurelia/Nell unfolding both in the time of the relationship, and as she remembers it looking back. The title Past Perfect is also a pun, referring not just to the way the characters might remember the past, but as a nod to the man, Gary’s, obsession with Latin verbs. As Gary and Nell skirmish over differing accounts of their imperfect present, can they reach a place where their memories can agree on a perfect past?
The performance is an agreeable way to spend forty minutes; it is not a profound play, but it is thoughtful entertainment, and it is also a good vehicle for talented performers. Patricia Magno, who plays the older Aurelia/Nell; Bethan Cullinane, playing the younger; and Robin Morrissey, who plays Gary, have plenty of opportunities to show the audience what they can do, and they make the most of them. They handle the opening monologues and rapid interrupting between characters not unlike tennis players deftly batting a ball back and forth. Undeterred by the small size of the playing space, and the closeness of the audience, they are also fearless in their use of direct address. The result is that the audience feels involved in the lives of these characters right from the start, and that interest continues right up to the moment where playwright Holt delivers a final, shocking, twist.
With a compact set cleverly designed by Amy Rose Mitchell, consisting of free standing flats decorated with clocks, and with skillful direction by Fred Gray, Etcetera Theatre’s production of Past Perfect gives an overall sense of time well spent in the theatre.
Reviewed by Dominica Plummer
Etcetera Theatre until 6th July
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: