Abigail Bryant reviews The Nature of Forgetting at the Pleasance, Edinburgh
Memory is a delicate yet fundamental aspect of human nature that informs how we link the past with the present, and more importantly how we shape the future. In The Nature of Forgetting, Theatre Re explores the fragility of memory and the insular process of holding on to meaning and recollection when our physiological capabilities to do so weaken.
Tom is about to turn 55, and is living with early onset dementia. We meet him and his daughter Sophie as she helps him to prepare for his birthday party. As he flicks through garments of clothing that go on to poignantly represent various life milestones, we are whisked into a life-affirming journey into his mind, where reality is non-linear and gaps are desperately fought to be salvaged.
Theatre Re have collaborated with neuroscience professionals for this production, and the element of considered research is evident – the subject matter is handled with sensitivity, respect and hard-hitting truthfulness. The minimal use of language in this play emphasises the power of storytelling through physical movement alone, and although I was a little apprehensive about the mime element at first, I was pleasantly surprised at how effective, emotive and genuinely entertaining it proved to be, and absolutely perfect for this concept.
All of the cast members shine in their multifaceted roles, but the man behind our protagonist, Guillaume Pigé, really stands out and gives the physically demanding role 110%. A character in its own right, the live music performed in this play is diverse, commanding and really gives the narrative backbone. Although at times the tone can feel a little idealistic and overly sentimental, The Nature of Forgetting has inherent charm backed up by intelligent and imaginative direction. It’s guaranteed to be one you’ll remember, so make sure you catch it!
The Nature of Forgetting plays at the Pleasance Courtyard until August 27th.