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The Museum of Us

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Recollections of Childhood

The Rosemary Branch Theatre, 14th August. 9pm (75 mins)

Childhood memories

The audience is led up the backstairs of the rustic pub to the c 80 seater theatre. Rows of comfortable cushioned seats line each side of the descending steps, the bottom of which is in line with the stage. This is an ideal layout for a theatre. Except when much of the action takes place when the actors are sitting down, which unfortunately means that the audience members in the back rows may have their view of the actors obscured by audience members in the front rows.

The stage is set with many props including large cardboard boxes and all sorts of other items which one may find stacked in an attic or cluttered room. At the back of the set is a hanging white sheet whose relevance becomes immediately evident as the c 10 – 15 minutes reel is projected onto it. The reel is made up of a series of photographs, drawings and film clips all set against a story being told by an old man’s voice and some music, the effect of which recalls fairytales of youth.

The three actresses pop out of boxes or from behind sheets once the scene has been set by the old man and film reel. The remainder of the play is set in this cluttered room over the 12 or so hours before the funeral of the fourth member of the childhood gang. The girls were childhood friends who have since gone their separate ways, and suddenly find themselves reunited by tragedy. Confining the girls to the room in which much of their childhood’s were played out results in much reminiscence and reversion to childhood.

The interactive nature of the performance continues throughout the play with much use being made of the projector, lighting and soundbytes, not without some technical issues. Audio clips from popular 90’s TV shows, films and music are used, perhaps excessively, many of which involve mimes being performed by the actresses using props plucked from the set. There is a fine line between theatrical or entertainment value in watching adults play children’s games and simply watching adults play star wars with torches. The concept is effective and entertaining, however perhaps slightly more moderation could have been employed.

Some themes bordered on cliché, covering abandonment as a child, dissatisfaction with adult life etc. The latter is somewhat rendered less effective by virtue of the fact that the girls appear to be in their 20’s and so arguably they cannot have too much to regret so early into adulthood

There was an element of audience interaction in that the audience was asked to fill in some sections of a scrapbook for use as a prop during the show. Additionally the audience were asked to wear illuminating star-shaped badges. This interaction is novel however not always necessary.

The idea behind the play is poignant and can be related to by most adults. Memories of childhood are strong and there is a natural tendency to revert particularly through sad occasions. This is played out well in the script and on stage. The acting from each of the three actresses is very strong. The jumping from laughter to grief is well portrayed and will ring true with any audience member who has experienced a funeral.

This young theatre company is inventive and refreshing in it’s advancement of interactive theatre. Integration of modern technology with the traditional art of storytelling through good scripts and strong, believable characters is not an easy marriage. This company will no doubt continue to produce interesting productions in future.

Cast: Madeleine Scott Cree – Roz. Helena Johnson – Harriet.  Kelly Russell – Lisa

Cast credits: Teresa Burns – Director.  Writers – Teresa Burns and Madeleine Scott Cree.  Producer – Jennifer Longdon.  Lighting – Sheena Khanna.  Sound – Stuart Mason.

www.onyourmarkstheatrecompany.com

(c) Leanne O’Loughlin 2010

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