The Nature of Forgetting is a work devised by London-based ensemble Theatre Re following main character 55-year-old Tom’s struggle with early onset dementia. However, the piece itself is not simply about dementia, it is an exploration of the human essence, an eternal “something” we all share, that is left when memory is gone. Theatre Re’s ethos is to create thought-provoking, tangible and poignant work, and The Nature of Forgetting is a prime example of just that.
At first the set consisted of two costume racks positioned across the front of the stage, which then opened up to reveal a slightly raised stage area, with on stage instrumentalists behind. The rest of the set consisted simply of four tables and chairs that transformed into anything and everything, with clever and absolutely seamless scene changes. The lighting design by Katherine Graham complimented and enhanced each scene.
The piece begins with Tom (Guillaume Pigé) being helped by his daughter Sophie (Louise Wilcox) to get dressed for his birthday party. From here we delve into Tom’s mind, uncovering memories and gaining an insight into the way he sees the world. At times, the action develops like a dream gone wrong, as Tom struggles to keep a grip on his own mind, and the audience empathise with his confusion and frustration. Pigé played the role outstandingly with determination, sensitivity, and a raw and vulnerable energy.
Throughout the entire performance, only a handful of lines are actually spoken, the story is otherwise communicated entirely through a physical theatre style incorporating mime and live music. However, this does not deter from the narrative at all, it actually creates something special and incredibly moving. The live music underscoring the performance, composed by Alex Judd, was fresh and extremely apt; the action fitting the music was timed to perfection.
The piece was wholly ensemble based and the performers worked exceptionally well together. With many actors taking on multiple roles, their commitment to character was impeccable and aided by Malik Ibheis’ symbolic costumes facilitating their completely different physicality’s.
It is clear that the piece is a whole creative team effort of work both on and off stage, but special mention must be made of the cast: Guillaume Pigé (Tom), Louise Wilcox (Isabella/Sophie), Eygló Belafonte (Emma/Mrs Dennis), Matthew Austin (Mike), Alex Judd (Multi-instrumentalist/Teacher), and Chris Jones and Kieran Pearson on alternate nights (Percussionist/Schoolboy). Each performer was as devoted and vital to the piece as each other, and the stunning piece of work they have created is a testament to that. They performed with fearlessness, playfulness and complete dedication.
The Nature of Forgetting is a life-affirming piece of theatre, enriched by the imaginative way Theatre Re’s work that quite rightly led the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.
Reviewer: Becky Mottershead
Reviewed: 12th June 2018
North West End Rating: ★★★★★