Living Memory by Genni Trickett
National Archives - 02 December 2019
Review by Melissa Syversen
I have been to a handful of site specific performances in my day but seeing a play at The National Archives in Kew is definitely a first. I live a good way away in North London but when this play and intriguing location and came my way I had to accept.
Fitting the nature of its venue, Living Memory is a new play about the nature of memory, how it can be saved and rediscovered after seemingly been lost. In this newly written play we meet two couples, both of whom are recovering from the loss of their child. The story takes place in the same room, but is split between two timelines. One is in the present where Jo and Jerry (Mia Skytte and Matt Tester) have just relocated to the village from London following the death of their baby. The other is Ruby and Frank (Felicity Morgan and Craig Cameron-Fisher) who in 1945 are still struggling with the loss their son who died in combat two years earlier during WW2. Lines are blurred when Jo discovers an old trunk in the attic that once belonged to Ruby.
Genni Trickett has both written and directed this piece, a double duty which is not an easy task. As a director she handles the two timelines nicely, transitions are smooth and the focus is well-balanced when characters from both timelines are on stage at the same time. Writing wise, it is more of a hit and miss. The first act could benefit from a bit of a trim. To establish the parallels between the two stories and between Jo and Ruby, scenes are essentially repeated in each timelines. This leads to a double dose of clunky exposition, and it does get repetitive. The first act is essentially over and hour of set up and no narrative drive. The second half fares better as the stakes come into play along with two new characters. Gracie (Andrea Wilkins) is Ruby’s chin-wag-loving sister-in-law and Russell (Hugh Cox) Jo’s boss … and former lover. Together they bring a new energy and interesting dynamic to the story. For Full review http://markaspen.com/2019/11/29/liv-mem/
Q2 at The National Archives, Kew