REVIEW: The Nature of Forgetting, Connaught Theatre, Worthing

Louise Wilcox as Isabella, Guillaume Pige as Tom and Matthew Austin as Mike in Theatre Re's The Nature of Forgetting
Louise Wilcox as Isabella, Guillaume Pige as Tom and Matthew Austin as Mike in Theatre Re's The Nature of Forgetting

How do you explain what it is like to have dementia? It is not an easy thing.

Theatre Re have found a unique way to express the frustrations and, yes, sometimes wonder that is The Nature of Forgetting, using mime, music and theatre.

The production is intense and moving but exhilirating, too, as we watch the fractured memories of Tom unfold on his 55th birthday.

It is 75 minutes' worth of almost constant movement, punctuated only by the occasional freeze-frame.

Sometimes more dance than drama, the work is carefully timed as desks, chairs and even a bicycle are swooped on and off the main platform.

At times it is so intense, you almost want it to stop and then it does, just for a few seconds, before setting off once more on its magical, heart-rending flow.

Tom's story is told in fragments, a stream of memories, sometimes clear and sometimes lost, just as it must be to be in the early stages of dementia.

You can feel the frustration and anger at times and anyone who has known someone with dementia will recognise the fear, too.

Lighting and music, played live on stage, are woven into the piece to be as one.

Guillaume Pigé, who conceived The Nature of Forgetting and plays Tom, demonstrates so well the sense of trying to hold on to a thought or memory and not quite being able to. Things and people keep pulling away.

The piece is full of metaphors, with tipping tables, for example, used to illustrate how memories slip away.

The hubbub of voices, disjointed movements and physicality of the piece all add to the poignancy.

It is a wonderful work. It opened at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing last night and there are two more performances, at 2.30pm and 7.30pm today. Visit worthingtheatres.co.uk/the-nature-of-forgetting for more information.