Danger: Memory! review at Teatro Technis, London – ‘uneven and laboured’
In later life, playwright Arthur Miller understandably began to address his fear of dementia and death through his work.
In Danger: Memory!, the playwright explore both themes through two very different single-act plays. I Can’t Remember Anything witnesses two old, irascible friends keeping watch over one another, as their memories begin to deteriorate. The second play, Clara, also deals with memory loss, but through the prism of a murder investigation.
The first play is far and away the more accessible, with Miller crafting a circuitous duologue that captures the frustrated bickering of two old acquaintances. Julian Bird is affable, as the industrious retired architect Leo, distracted rather than confused and a perfect foil for the abrasive, alcoholic Leonora. Deborah Javor’s mannered performance as Leonora seems slightly out of sync with Bird’s easy, naturalistic style but this jarring tends to work in the play’s favour.
The second piece is more problematic and the complex, meandering narrative is difficult to follow. Like Anthony Taylor’s insistent Detective, we are desperate for clarity but little is forthcoming. Bird, this time as Albert Kroll, is trying to claw back his memory to help the police with their enquires but it’s an overwhelmingly dense piece of writing.
Director Nathan Osgood directs both pieces with a fairly light hand, but an intrusive and uneven soundscape throttles any hint of subtlety. The ticking-clock metaphor throughout the first play is simply annoying and the street noises in the second are a distraction to an already taxing work.