A Beautiful Unravelling of the Mind

Written by Raymond Diaz

Theatre Re: The Nature of Forgetting performs what it is like for someone who is in the early stages of having dementia. It details the story of a middle aged man dealing with the repercussions of having his memory begin to deteriorate due to dementia, and the cast and musical performances convey this beautifully.


Ticket stub for The Nature of Forgetting

In the beginning we open with the main character, Tom, on his 55th birthday and we meet his daughter, Sophie, helping her father who struggles to dress himself. However, through his struggle we find that we begin to travel into his mind and see the memories begin to unravel but also disappear. The musicians aid in the first step in which they play a low bass note that signifies our transfer into a memory, followed by the performers who begin to act differently, almost childlike, showing that we have transferred into a younger version of our main character. The stage and set pieces aid in this transfer. The lights began to focus only on the stage, causing the surrounding area to be almost a void. The stage also had desks and a bike when showing a memory, as in the present Tom is only with a clothing rack, but in the past it changes to show that he is in a memory. This then leads to the clothing, having school uniforms and then wedding attire to show the passage of time and the evolution of the relationship between Tom and Isabella. Then in the end the movement goes from fast and agile, to slower and more reserved as we see the present come back and see grandma and an older Tom walk towards each other slowly to meet.

The stage for the performance

The distinctive ways in which each production portrayed life events was through body language and emotion. In Home for example we saw that when moving into the new place, getting a new job, or having the group party, they were excited and moved more energetically, whereas when dealing with a funeral, being evicted, or getting up for work, the tenants tended to move more sluggishly and their facial expressions were sad or tired. In The Nature of Forgetting we saw that the music would shift in tone and the lighting would help to portray the event. In what appeared to be a wedding the music was more upbeat, the lighting was bright, and the energy from the performers was positive, yet in the scenes that showed an accident may have occurred the lighting was darker, the music was more ambient, and we saw the performers arguing with one another. On top of this, as Tom begins to lose the memory at the end we see the objects begin to disappear and the music become more hurried and anxious in nature to give the effect the performer is having. The differences however between the two are in Home the audience was at one point expected to come up and participate in the performance, yet both performances created an experience that allowed the audience to feel immersed and engaged simply by watching the events unfold.

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