Memory is slippery. It’s is not something you can rely on. It captures some things vividly and lets others slide through its grasp. It is fickle. It is faulty.
Dublin’s Malaprop Theatre, which created two of the smartest shows of last year’s fringe – Black Catfish Musketeer and Love+ – returns with this layered theatrical essay on the interplay between memory and history. How can we be sure we know the things we know? How can we be certain of anything?
Via a series of vignettes, performers John Doran, Breffni Holahan and Maeve O’Mahony (all excellent) explore ideas about cultural memory, the inadequacy and fundamental strangeness of photography – a single moment trapped in time. There are riffs on Princess Diana and Rasputin, their stories distorted by myth, song, the flare of the flashbulb, a life distilled into the moment it ended. They act out Rasputin’s extended demise – shot, poisoned, drowned, the one fact that has stuck.
Between scenes a recorded voice interrogates the audience about their own memories. It tests them. How much of this show will they remember? And who will remember them, years from now, decades?
Claire O’Reilly’s production is a wonderfully idea-dense work, if perhaps less satisfyingly structured than last year’s pieces, as much a thesis as a play. I’d say the last image is particularly memorable, intentionally so, but how can I be sure that’s true? Ask me next week.