Written by Danielle Herrera
Theatre Re’s performance “The Nature of Forgetting” gives a shockingly emotional portrayal of the struggles that emerge from gradual memory deterioration.
On Tuesday I walked into the Colwell Playhouse of the Krannert Center about 5 minutes late into the performance, having absolutely no idea what was going on onstage. I remember witnessing seemingly random scenes being acted out with no sense of an actual plot line or story; everything appeared to be nonsense that lacked any type of correlation. However, as the performance progressed the random scenes were repeated over and over again but with more context. This enabled the audience to piece together exactly what was happening, which was the memory deterioration of a man who was suffering from dementia.
The aspect of this performance in which I was most impressed with was the techniques that were used to indicate memories versus the present. On the stage there was an elevated platform that was used to illustrate scenes that were happening in the past, while everything outside of the platform represented present events. So for instance, flashbacks of the man when he was a student in grade school were portrayed on the elevated surface, whereas the scene with the man and his daughter getting ready for his birthday was acted out on stage. What I thought was very interesting, however, was how the actors also used the raised platform to depict the loss of the man’s memories. There were several moments where either objects or people are pulled off the platform and the man visibly tries to keep them from falling off; this demonstrates how the man is actively trying to salvage what he has left of his memories.
Another way in which the play depicted transitions between present day versus past moments were through lighting and music. Flashbacks tended to be bright with much more playful music, whereas scenes that occured during present day were slightly dimmer and completely silent. The use of lighting and music helped emphasize the nostalgia and bliss that accompany happy memories of the past.
Overall, I was captivated for the entirety of the show and I could honestly say this has been one of my favorite plays that I have attended. The depiction of happy, carefree memories could easily be related to by the majority of audience; for this reason, visually seeing the slow deterioration of these recollections were especially emotion-evoking. The performance itself was extremely intricate yet fairly easy to follow, and I would definitely recommend this play to anyone who has the opportunity to watch it.
For more information, go to https://krannertcenter.com/events/theatre-re-nature-forgetting.