The Darkroom, C nova


Originally written for Fest Magazine.

To pass on your memories is to achieve immortality. This, at least, is the fascinating premise of this new piece by Ellen Carr and Witness Theatre, an interrogation of the way we remember. Asking questions about the memories we leave behind us and how they add up to a life, we are presented with a shed, scraps of paper, a pair of slippers, a photograph: clues to be assembled.

But these various different jigsaw pieces don’t quite slot together. There is, at the work’s core, an intriguing idea to be pulled apart around the way that memories work and how they survive us, but this potential is never quite grasped by the production. Instead, the company’s creative curiosity has led it down too many different avenues, playing with a range of aesthetics that are interesting in isolation but fail to fully mesh.

There are some striking moments that emerge from the experimentation. Tightly choreographed movement conveys the jolting monotony of remembered routine, while the fragmentary nature of memory is hinted at through snippets of film projected inventively onto a range of surfaces: a box, a tablecloth, a folder. The execution, however, is uneven.

At one point, Carr’s script delves into psychology, describing the vast unexplored terrain that still exists in the human mind. Is this a gap or a possibility? Carr has certainly seized on a captivating possibility, but it feels like a regrettably wasted one.

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