Get Cultured — June 15, 2016 at 1:45 pm

“A Persistent Memory” is an Ambitious Yet Incomplete Work

by
Photo by Carol Rosegg

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Memory is a funny thing. It’s there all the time without really being there, at least not in any physical way. Memories manifest inside of our brains without us telling them to. They just do, and the better your mind works, the bigger the database is. Elephants are known for their amazing capability to remember most things that happen in their life, a memory better than ours. In “A Persistent Memory” that capacity is explored by using it to go deeper into the main character ordeal and conflict, using elephants as a point of reference and plot. That sounds to me like it has the makings of an extremely intelligent masterpiece, but that’s sadly not what it was.

“A Persistent Memory” by Jackob G. Hofmann, is a play that has everything working for it. When I saw the stage I gave myself a prediction: this play is going to blow my mind. The stage and the premise were enough to make me feel like I was correct in that assumption, and when the play started I was happy. It was strong, the dialogue was good and the acting was captivating. Then it kept going, and the longer it went, the duller it got. And I couldn’t comprehend why. It took me days to write the review because it caught me off guard. My assumptions are usually on point, and everything had actually worked, so how come I was not enjoying it? How come this polished piece of theater was boring to me? Then I thought of the script.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Photo by Carol Rosegg

The script is the first thing on the process of making theater happen. It’s also the point where a production lives or dies. And this well-written script might have been thrilling on paper, but when humans spoke the dialogue, it no longer seemed exciting. The character relationships are not truly touched besides one dimensional encounters. And the attempt to liken the elephants hurtful memories to the main character’s plight was forced into it. It had no true connection besides the fact that elephants have excellent memories and our main character had problems with his. It’s truly a shame that the script never reached what the production gave to it.

This is not to say this show is a failure. There’s moments of brilliance all throughout the play. The first and last scene are both captivating. The main character’s grip on reality, however sporadic it might have seemed, is strongly performed by Drew Ledbetter. He makes us care about the main character and it is the reason why most scenes work, even if they don’t really demand your attention. Another standout in this ensemble was Ariel Estrada, who plays Kasem, an elephant expert who has the most compelling moments and makes you yearn for the elephant connection to work. It is in moments like this that you can tell there’s a brilliant script in here, it’s just not entertaining enough to hold my attention for long.

Directed by Jessi D. Hill, “A Persistent Memory” will be waiting for you  at The Beckett Theater until June 18. I recommend you go see it, and then come here and comment. I would love to hear your opinion on this play!

Out of 4 stars:

stars

Twisted Talk: Have you seen any MBL Productions before? What did you think of this show? Discuss below!

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