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Sydney review: Re: Memory an immersive experience

Sepy Baghaei: Photo by Liam O'Keefe.

Re: Memory

Directed by Sepy Baghaei

Devised with Scott Parker and Jade Allen

Suitcase Civilians

The Old 505 Theatre

342 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills

Season: 16 – 21 June 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm

Whether or not you are a nostalgic person, we all subconsciously rely on memory as a defining factor of our identity. The recollection of the past can be a deeply personal process, resulting in vulnerability and emotional connection when these experiences are shared.

Re: Memory, directed by Sepy Baghaei, is an immersive theatrical experience, with audience interaction critical to the development and journey of the piece.

Initially developed and presented at Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle in 2012, the show has evolved from focusing on the performer’s exploration of memories through the presentation of verbatim text in a standard theatre format with the audience as an onlooker, to putting the audience in control of the exploration. This reworked version of Re: Memory first premiered at Camden People’s Theatre London in March this year, and Baghaei has returned to share this experience with Sydney.

The shift in her work, conjunctively devised with Scott Parker and Jade Allen, has culminated in a show that changes every night, due to the focus on audience memories, which inevitably vary.

The show greatly allows for introspective reflection, yet also provides opportunity for exchange and learning from other audience members and the theatre devisers. While experience of the show may be deeply personal, as the devisers and the audience share the role of performer, audiences gain a heightened sense of the interconnected nature of the theatrical experience.

I can’t reveal too much as the show’s premise relies heavily on the unknown proceedings of the experience, however I can say that you shouldn’t expect to sit comfortably as an onlooker in the audience for this show! It is highly interactive and audience-driven. At points I found this unsettling, as it is such a deviation from theatrical norms, however it ultimately resulted in a vastly unique and memorable performance.

For an element so integral to one’s identity, as life moves quickly we often become fixed in a position of forward-thinking, hastening to move onwards and neglecting to consider the power our memories have in our present lives. Continual observing, noticing and questioning ‘why?’ leaves one reflecting for days after Re: Memory is first experienced. Baghaei’s show is innovative and may just be the alternative theatre experience you’ve been waiting for.

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