Remember This

Sun 7th – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Edie Livesey

at 10:40 on 13th Aug 2011

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The concept behind Remember This is brilliant and almost every aspect of the play was well executed. For the work of two student playwrights – Lizzie Bourne and Florence Vincent – this was superb: the witty, touching and initially believable script swept me along, and the hour-long performance was incredibly enjoyable. The problem with it was that the characters engaged me so I can’t stop thinking about them. The result is that I’ve come to believe that, although I enjoyed the play while I was watching it, on closer inspection it really doesn’t make sense. The play presents a riddle that I don’t think has an answer, not because it relates to some unanswerable philosophical question, but because the script suggests the possibility of five or six different endings in a way that renders any one or combination of them literally impossible. If there is an answer to the riddle, then please, someone from the Remember This team, give it as a comment, or send us an email, as we at the edfringereview.com flat are all puzzling over it; however, I suspect the play tries to have its cake and eat it. Although it would be fine to leave the fate of the characters in doubt, I think in this instance that the play lacks the conviction to commit to anything. It suggests too many options and gives too few firm facts, and therefore, in an attempt to leave all doors open, actually burns its bridges. The characters are left in a limbo of utter impossibility, which in retrospect takes some of the pleasure from what, to the writers’ credit, is an excellent scenario.

This lack of conviction affected the actors’ performances as well. To be absolutely fair to the script, some of its finer points might have been clearer had Daisy Badger (Helen) spoken more slowly. However, what I initially thought of as woodenness from her was, I think, partly the result of the script’s uncertainty. The point at which she freezes towards the end is extremely effective – I could almost believe she was transparent. This threw light on the directorial decisions regarding her portrayal earlier in the play, but I still felt she could have conveyed more warmth, regret and humour, particularly in the sections that were meant to be memory. Credit should go to the costume designer for Helen’s outfit, as it was my only early indication that she was out of place. However, again, due to lack of indications of this in the script, I spent most of the play assuming that the choice of costume was misguided, just a I put the tea that never went cold down to poor direction.

Despite all this, a very strong performance from Paul Brotherson (Nick) meant that the play never lacked pace or character. The photographs that the play is based around are really excellent. I think this script may have fundamental flaws, but the play is still worth seeing, and I hope to see more from its writers in the future.

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Rhiannon Kelly

at 11:31 on 13th Aug 2011

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Simply staged and gracefully performed; ‘Remember This’ was a real pleasure to watch. Written by Florence Vincent and Lizzie Bourne, the play tracks the relationship of Nick (Paul Brotherson) and Helen (Daisy Badger) as we witness the last ten years of their relationship through a set of old photographs. Cathartic and beautifully written, the play questioned the nature of memories, imagination and truth, giving us an insight into the broader themes of love and loss.

The set was awash with a jumbled array of boxes, suitcases, clothes and a lamp. This cluttered attic space was the perfect environment for the couple to discuss their relationship, as both characters were forced to confront emotions and issues from their past that they had hidden away for so long. The relationship between Nick and Helen never ceased to be convincing; the carefully projected photographs and the colloquial and well-delivered language came together to create an utterly believable and moving performance. I personally love looking at old photographs, be that my own or even a complete stranger’s; I can’t get enough of them. So while the premise to ‘Remember This’ may be a simple one, I could have listened to the couple reminisce all day.

The conversations were humorous and witty; from reminiscing about stealing an entire bowl of complimentary mints to arguing over the name of their child, Vincent and Bourne really explore the trivial details that a couple remember. The chuckles from the audience are testament to how honest and familiar these conversations are. Occasional interruptions from Nick’s sister Isabell (Emma Friedman Cohen) offering unwanted tea also provided comic relief.

As the play went on, darker issues and problems were revealed, and the truth behind their relationship is slowly unravelled with real sensitivity and sophistication. There was a slight awkwardness and underlying sadness throughout the dialogue, which made the ending all the more poignant. Paul Brotherson was effective in portraying Nick’s grief and desperation, his breakdown made me genuinely emotional, and while she could have been a little warmer in parts, Daisy Badger’s Helen was strong and well developed.

Some facts about their life didn’t quite match up, and we left the theatre with a few questions about what actually happened. However, I thought that this augmented the production, as it became almost like a photograph itself, only showing the surface. Although it wasn’t perfect, I have given the production five stars for it’s sophistication and subtly. It made me laugh and it made me cry, what more do you want from a student production?

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