Malaprop’s tricksy meta-theatrical ode to the slipperiness of memory, Everything Not Saved, stimulates and teases – but perhaps won’t leave a particularly lasting impression in my mind, at least.
A meta-theatrical ode to the slipperiness of memory, Malaprop Theatre’s Everything Not Saved asks whether a photo freezes a moment or instantaneously becomes its new ‘reality’. And why the brain is ever thought of as ‘archive’, when our minds can’t help but distort memories from the moment they are formed.
The Dublin-based company’s tricksy Summerhall show takes a bit of getting used to. Like the subject they provoke us to reconsider, there’s something not entirely trustworthy about the manner in which John Doran, Breffni Holahan and Maeve O’Mahony address us. These performances wouldn’t feel out of place in an Ontroende Goed show – gently teasing us, and being perpetually one step ahead in what turns into a fairly cerebral analysis – and theatrical demonstration – of how minds work. Malaprop experiment (and ‘mess’) with form, just as our minds pervert our ability to remember things as they ‘actually’ happened.
The extent to which Princess Diana and Rasputin’s ‘stories’ (and demises) has been distorted over time is a key focus for the company, whilst a recorded voice frequently exposes the fragility of the audiences’ own memory. Be under no illusion that Everything Not Saved is – frequently – pretty difficult to keep up with. Accessible theatre, this isn’t really – and if you’re not (actively) looking to be intellectually stimulated, I’m not sure there’s a great deal here to enjoy.
The show is dense with ideas, and with ‘smart’ meta-theatrical nods, but proceedings, for me, occasionally feel a little smug and a touch pretentious. I always think the (actual) smartest companies are those who can turn a complicated subject into something entirely digestible – and I’m not sure we get that here. Nevertheless, Malaprop’s arresting final scene (containing definite vibes of the Almeida’s Mr Burns’ finale) is thrillingly unexpected – and if you’re willing to really concentrate and invest your full attention in the show’s academic insights, you’ll come away stimulated and enlightened.