It’s Tom’s 55th birthday, and his daughter, Sophie, prepares him for a visit by two of his friends. But Tom has an unspecified degenerative disease that affects his memory and understanding of the world around him. In a journey through Tom’s life reminiscent of the Seven Ages of Man, we travel back in his memory and watch him him grow from whining schoolboy, to lover, to, eventually, second childishness and mere oblivion. Beautifully realised by a company of four, The Nature of Forgetting is a heartfelt exploration of the memories lost to degenerative illness.
A highlight of the play is the score, composed by Alex Judd, which is performed live on stage. It’s absolutely stunning. With the aid of looped motifs, the pieces build beautifully with the action and swell to crescendos just as Tom (performed with impressive stamina and emotion by Guillaume Pigé) hits the highs of each memory. These are truly gorgeous moments.
Clever, too, is the way that we see scenes from Tom’s memory repeated and reframed, but with objects, people, and occurrences literally disappearing piece by piece from the scene. Coupled with the jarring, digital noises mixed in with the music, Theatre Re sensitively and movingly illustrate the difficulty sufferers of illnesses such as dementia face in remembering.
The structure of the piece could perhaps do with a little refining. The play lingers on Tom’s schooldays for a little too long, leaving his later life a tad underdeveloped, and leaving conspicuous gaps. The amount of attention payed to schooldays means that a couple of the sequences in the classroom are overcooked whereas other parts of Tom’s life – his marriage and his relationship with his daughter – are underdone.
The innovative staging of difficult moments devised by the company is impressive, a particularly beautiful example being a bike ride that is at once joyous and breath-taking. The ensemble – Louise Wilcox, Matthew Austin, and Eygló Belafonte – carry us with effortless slickness through multiple shifts in time and place, with impressive effect. It’s a beautiful show, and although its structure could be slightly more taut, The Nature of Forgetting leaves a memorable impression.
The Nature of Forgetting is playing at Pleasance Courtyard until August 27. For more information, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/nature-of-forgetting