Emma Haché’s Lesson in Forgetting (translated by Taliesin McEnaney and John Van Burek) is an exploration of memory, amnesia and love. It;’s currently playing in a production by Pleiades Theatre directed by Ash Knight at the Young Centre. The basic premise is that HE (Andrew Moodie) has suffered head injuries that mean the only thing he can remember is how much he loves SHE (Ma-Ann Dionisio). She visits him every day to work on his memory issues but it’s obviously hopeless and eventually, wanting to be free to continue her own life, she tries to leave him but can’t.
This plays out quite repetitively in a way but at each repetition her version of their former life together changes subtly. It mostly turns on their daughter (played here by Reese Cowley who doubles as a narrator) who may or may not exist. Is SHE creating an ideal past that she needs to have existed but never actually did? Is that the “price” of her persisting with what remains of the relationship?
Anyway all this plays out in a sparse setting augmented by video. The performances are very good. Moodie manages to convey that he moments of (almost) recall quite uncannily while vividly describing “nothingness”. Dionisio is charming. She pulls off the difficult feat of almost, but not quite, losing it multiple times and her changing story vis à vis the daughter is handled in a completely dead pan manner. Cowley is graceful and sympathetic in her portrayal of the daughter.
All in all, it’s an intriguing show that takes a bit of getting into to but at the end of 75 minutes (it’s a short one acter) one is left with a bunch of things to ponder about love and how we construct our memories.
Lesson in Forgetting plays at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts until May 22nd.
Photos by Cylia von Tiedemann.