93KP Theatre, 93 Kelburn Parade, Wellington

31/01/2018 - 03/02/2018

Production Details

Memento is an improvised work directed by Jennifer O’Sullivan, exploring the parallel between memory, dreams, childhood and improvisation; the way the importance of events in our past can never be truly captured by the mementos they leave behind.

This February, Victoria University is proud to present the inaugural Summer of 77: MFA Theatre Showcase. The culmination of a year’s creative work, Summer of 77 is the final presentation for Victoria University’s new Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice) theatre course, featuring seven premieres of new work over two weeks, from 27th January to 11th February.

Our inaugural season of new theatre is sure to captivate and excite audiences through a myriad of genres and forms. Summer of 77 invites all of Wellington to support and witness the work of the next generation of Aotearoa New Zealand’s theatre makers.

93 Kelburn Parade
31st Jan, 1st/2nd/3rd Feb
7:00pm (doors open 6:45pm)

Matt Powell
George Fenn
Bethany Miller
Lena Sammüller
Lyndon Hood
Kate Wilson, and
Wiremu Tuhiwai

with musical support from Isaac Thomas

Theatre , Improv ,

Actorly skill, smooth teamwork and confidence delivers

Review by Tim Stevenson 02nd Feb 2018

Free your mind from material possessions – cut off a body part. Let’s see how dad’s getting on with restoring granddad’s old Ford Falcon XL. Let’s make a Boston bun. I’ve just eaten five packets of Twinkies and found out I’ve got Type 2 diabetes. What it’s like to be 6 years old and have Gene Simmons of Kiss sticking his tongue in your face when you’re trying to go to sleep …

Such and more are the joys of improv as offered by Memento, currently on show as part of Victoria University’s season of new pieces from the Master of Fine Arts theatre course.

The format of the show goes like this: audience members are invited to write down a memory on a slip of paper which goes in a box. The actors draw slips from the box, lottery style, and improvise a piece based on whatever memory they’ve drawn. The actors work as a team, coming in and out of the action, or creating instant scenery with chalk drawings and lettering on scenery shapes or the floor.

The program tells us that Memento explores the parallels between memory, dreams, childhood and improvisation. Like the pirate’s code as described in The Curse of the Black Pearl, this topic is more of a guideline than a strict rule. Memories from childhood do predominate in the segments I see (on Thursday night), but the actors allow themselves to follow their ideas wherever they go.

They might lose contact with The Topic at moments but the result is always positive in terms of energy, entertainment value and that special improv payoff that comes from watching inventive people walking the high wire of the imagination. For example, my favourite segment takes the memory prompt ‘feet’ and strings together a long sequence in which a mysterious shower of single shoes, the commercial possibilities of no-smell shoes and the benefits of cutting off body parts all feature.

From the actors’ point of view, the show’s format puts a premium on spur of the moment creation, actorly skill, smooth teamwork and confidence in yourself and your collaborators. Memento benefits from having a team of improvisers possessing between them generous amounts of these qualities. Credit to the team: George Fenn, Lyndon Hood, Bethany Miller, Matt Powell, Lena Sammuller, Wiremu Tuhiwai and Kate Wilson. Everyone has their moments of joint or individual acting glory; Sammuller’s exalted insistence on the joys of monopedia and Hood’s short, triumphant moment of applause are standout moments for me.

Special mention to Isaac Thomas for providing guitar accompaniment that fits seamlessly with whatever is happening on stage: his contribution is a feat of musical skill and spontaneity.

Credit is also due to Jennifer O’Sullivan, the devisor and director, for her part in building a production team capable of delivering the goods on the night with such relaxed, confident style.

[Notes: the show will, of course, differ each night according to audience prompts; due to an error in the advised starting time the reviewer was unable to attend the entire performance reviewed.] 


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