Review: Re: Memory (Suitcase Civilians / Old 505 Theatre)

old505Venue: Old 505 Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Jun 16 – 21, 2015
Devised by: Jade Allen, Sepy Baghaei, Scott Parker
Director: Sepy Baghaei
Image by Liam O’Keefe

Theatre review
It is impossible to overstate the importance of memory and the extent to which it shapes our lives. Our beliefs, thoughts, behaviour and relationships rely on the flawless functioning of memory, and human experience rests upon its stability in order that everything can retain its meaning. Sepy Baghaei’s work attempts to excavate our capacity to remember, not to test its accuracy, but to provide a sense of the link between today and yesterday, by looking at how the way we are today is informed by and undivorceable from the past.

Attendees of her event are blindfolded for most of the hour. Our gaze is turned inward, and we are required to respond to voices and sounds by following prompts and answering questions. The show can be seen as two halves. One deals with how we relate to the physical world, and the other is entirely internal, where we examine personal emotions and psychology. The “facilitators” are confident and warm, so we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and at the moment we surrender control, the experience becomes fascinating and deeply interesting.

What Baghaei creates is thoroughly adventurous and quite wonderful, but finding greater depth is a challenge. This piece of theatre relies on attendees to become its only cast members, and with only a short opportunity of interaction (instead of months of rehearsal), we can only reveal and see so much. It feels like skimming a surface, where the most affecting and profound are surely hidden. Leaving Re: Memory feels very satisfying, almost gleefully so, but the experience should continue. It is a show that should keep playing long after we have exited its stage, but it is easier to fall back into the daily grind and leave behind those early stages of introspection. Nevertheless, there is no knowing yet, if the mind does keep working its magic independent of our intentions, after Baghaei’s gentle interrogations.

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