Danger Memory (3 Stars)

Nearly There in association with GTF presents
Arthur Miller’s Danger: Memory
Sept 27th – Oct 15th 2016, Theatro Technis

“Nearly There Productions, under the leadership of Julian Bird and in association with Group Theatre & Film, will perform both pieces from Arthur Miller’s Danger: Memory! collection – two contrasting but thematically related one-act plays, I Can’t Remember Anything and Clara, about the meaning of memories and the selective amnesia of the past”.

Playwright: Arthur Miller
Company Nearly There Productions
Producer Julian Bird
in association with Group Theatre & Film

Cast: Julian Bird, Deborah Javor, Kristy Quade and Anthony Taylor
Director: Nathan Osgood

Review by Richard Lambert, 3 Stars ***

I’d never previously been to Theatro Technis so was intrigued to see this centrally located easily accessible venue for the 1st time. It’s a little gem with character. Googling the venue I find “Theatro Technis was founded in 1957 by a group of Cypriot theatre artists. In 1978, it moved to its current location, an old church house and converted it into a theatre”. So there you have it and only 6 mins walk from Mornington Crescent Tube.
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The Set Design (David Meunier-Palmer) was simple but lovely. A rear frame criss-crossed with strings to create a kaleidoscope feel. It’s a false wall, you can see the space behind, it a spiders web trap for the characters to enclose them in their living room existence. With side tables with extending flaps, wooden chairs, a record player, whisky bottles beside an old GPO telephone, you immediately know you’re in for a period “drawing room” play. Wonderful. Although the rear frame is a modern concept in a period piece it surprisingly works really well.

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The Soundscape is a ticking clock – a little too loud and frantic for my taste – with stereo effects to place you around the space. Stage left for the clock, stage right and centre for the 33rpm turntable record player. But, when the Music plays its so loud that even the cast jump and then have to shout their lines over the top.

The evening titled “Danger! Memory!” is 2 plays with an interval, both by Arthur Miller.

The 1st play “I Can’t Remember Anything” is a 2 hander showing 2 friends who meet every day for breakfast and dinner. One of them is forgetful and on the slippery path to dementia. She’s cynical, funny and has a penchant for whisky. Quite delightful in a black comedy way. This play was funny and we giggled our way through but it was also a little dark in that it could be any of our futures. Deborah Javor in the role of Leonora had some great lines which she delivered with flair. Their dance together, done in complete character, received an impromptu round of applause from the audience.

The 2nd play “Clara” had 4 actors. I can’t really tell you what it was about. It was very confusing. At one point, the man’s daughter (?) walked across the rear of the set behind the rear frame carrying a bird cage. Twice. Very random. There was an inspector and a murder, and the girl. But I really was quite lost as to the story.

The Soundscape for the 2nd play was outdoor street sounds. Even though we were indoors you could hear car horns, motorcycle chases, all quite distracting. And yet again, far too loud.

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The projector came on as the girl carried her birdcage but all I saw was a green rectangle. I suppose this was a technical glitch – there was a little clue in that there was an Apple Mac Taskbar projecting onto the arm chair but this wouldn’t have been visible from the Tech Box.

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The lighting (by Simeon Miller) did exactly what you wanted. Unobtrusive, subtle, consideration for both the Set and the Cast, and was 3-dimensional. Perfect lighting for these 2 plays.

Luckily I sat in the front seating block section of the auditorium. Stage Left would have been ok, however the Stage Right audience were predominantly ignored and watched the back of the cast for significant parts of both plays.

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening. The 1st play was moving and will linger in your thoughts while the 2nd play just confusing.

(Photo Credit: Dean Osgood)

Venue Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Rd, London NW1 1TT
Ticket Price £15/£12 (concessions)
Box Office Ticketsource (ticketsource.co.uk/ArthurMiller), 0333 666 3366
Facebook (facebook.com/ArthurMiller2016)
Twitter (twitter.com/ArthurMiller_16)

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