Memories at the Lyric Hammersmith
This year the Evolution festival shines its spotlight on women and the latest offering, Memories, provides a short, poignant insight into the lives of three young girls in the foster care system, each facing their own personal burden and an unbearable struggle with their own existence.
Written and produced by Basheba Baptiste and thoughtfully directed by Prime, the production opens with a singular female narrative voice. Her negative ramblings, observing us all as nothing more than “meat and bones”, start to cast a depressing veil over the piece. Intentional and humbling, it seems a vital seed to sow as we move forward to meeting the three protagonists of the story.
In the bedroom of a foster home, we meet Ruby (Heya Nugent-Moore), Marnie (Sarah Taddese) and Shannon (Tiana Thompson), and the play moves forward through the dialogue between them. Frantic exchanges, raw emotional outbursts and tender moments of friendship take centre stage as the characters unveil their upsetting pasts and navigate their futures together. Marnie is the more volatile of the three. Unable to unpack her boxes and ever lay her hat, Taddese’s heart-aching portrayal of a girl damaged by the system is utterly realistic, especially when her angry eruptions pair well with the softly spoken Shannon and the ever-hopeful optimism she tries to break down in Ruby.
The play is led by tales of unwanted upbringings and misunderstood behaviour, of secure unit confinement and terrible beatings, of being unheard and ultimately disowned. However, there are moments of bitter-sweet humour that lighten the drama, and subtle choreography that breaks up the dialogue – although when a maddening scene with strobe lights and deafening heartbeats encloses around the audience and the feeling of anxiety engulfs us entirely.
There’s no audience participation but nonetheless, it’s a harrowing journey we follow and it definitely leaves you unsettled. Acted from the heart with the intention of arousing awareness, Memories is a minuscule expose of the cracks in the system and the narrator leaves us to wonder if happiness is “just a mask we all wear” and if anyone is ever truly happy?
Memories is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 5th March until 6th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.