THE MEMORY PLAYS
BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
30/10/2018 - 03/11/2018
You can’t keep living in the past, no matter who that past may be.
“You’re right, it’s not forever… Sooner or later I will die.” The Ides of June
One woman relives an argument with an old friend. Another spirals into questions about her strangely vivid dreams. A third can’t get over an ex, much to the chagrin of everyone who knows her.
All three are stuck in the past, and all three need to let go or risk damaging their present lives in the process.
Three plays spanning three decades jam-packed with drama, intrigue and comedy, The Memory Plays is an original anthology show featuring new work from three writers with vividly contrasting styles.
RUMINATE (Drama) written by Helen Vivienne Fletcher, directed by Ivana Palezevic
WE ARE THE EXPERIMENTS (Thriller) written by Oliver Probert, directed by Oliver Probert and Ralph Johnson
THE IDES OF JUNE (Romantic Comedy) written and directed by Ethan D. Rodgers
BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome
30 October – 3 November
Full Price $18
Concession Price $14
Group 6+ $13
*Access to The Heyday Dome is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS.
1hr 30m (no interval)
Review by Margaret Austin 31st Oct 2018
I keep track of my professional and social engagements on a large, colour coded hard copy calendar. On Tuesday 30 October was scribbled “The Memory Plays”.
Ironically, I couldn’t recall a thing in connection with these words! I had to swallow my pride and phone John Smythe who masterminds Theatreview to ask where the heck and for what I was meant to be at 8.00 pm that evening!
It is BATS Theatre of course, and more specifically the Heyday Dome space, where an attentive crowd is gathered to watch a theatrical anthology: The Memory Plays, produced by Helen Vivienne Fletcher. There are three, and they are linked thematically, featuring women who for some reason or another, are troubled. Their plight in each case forms the premise for the unfolding action.
It is the nature of those plights that piques and mostly holds the audience’s attention.
In ‘Ruminate’, writer Helen Vivienne Fletcher and director Ivana Palezevic throw us, without preamble, into an intriguing twosome – or is it a threesome? “Is this memory or reality?” asks a new boyfriend, referring to the haunting presence of his girlfriend’s former female friend, who materialises to discourage this new relationship with the taunt that he’s “a drop-kick”.
What I like best about this vignette is how successfully dramatic tension is maintained, as well as the final moments in which the boyfriend, by now understandably frustrated, tries to discourage his girl from accepting yet another interruption from the interpolator.
The question we’re left with is whether she won’t or can’t let go of the past.
‘We are the Experiments’, subtitled a thriller, is written by Oliver Probert, who also directs with Ralph Johnson.
I find this piece a tad difficult to follow, perhaps because of its quirky philosophical content, supplied mainly by Oliver (writer’s alter ego?). Oliver’s energy is nicely counterbalanced by the two other characters, one of whom is troubled by her vivid dreams.
The dialogue is well written and fast paced, consisting of existential questions that the characters throw at each other, and the amusingly light hearted reactions.
I won’t describe the denouement because it’s a thriller.
The last and longest piece, intriguingly titled ‘The Ides of June’ is written by Ethan D Rodgers, who also directs.
The scarlet couch which has featured as stage furniture so far is jettisoned in favour of a set of easels, positioned with their backs to the audience, and we have five characters.
“I like people who grow from adversity,” declares one, and that might well be the mantra for the unfolding action here. The eponymous June can’t get over an ex. The others on stage – one other woman and three men – try to be helpful as they interrelate amongst the paintings, their comments at times delightfully descriptive.
We hear an emotional tarantula referred to, someone likes semi-gloss, and another complains, “You’re seeing the exhibition out of order.”
It’s difficult to say who has the hardest time – the eponymous June, or the hapless male who’s left centre stage at the play’s end.
All three parts of this anthology are characterised by tight writing, clever dialogue, deft direction and intelligent playing.
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