Forget Me Nots is a new piece of ‘queer theatre’ from Rokkur Friggjar, a collective of theatre makers based in Iceland and the UK, who are contributors to this year’s Army@Summerhall Festival Fringe programme.
Forget Me Nots just doesn’t live up to its name
In 1941 Iceland was occupied not by Germany, but by Britain, in a military exercise known as Operation Fork. It was a preventive measure to hold back a suspected German invasion. The Icelandic government protested vehemently against the violation of its neutrality and in many cases the men of the island were less than happy that their chances of amorous liaisons had been reduced by half by the presence of troops from the UK, USA and Canada. Many of the women took a different view.
It is against this background that the story of Forget Me Nots very slowly unfolds. Siggi (Fannar Arnarsson) and Gréta (Halla Sigríður Ragnarsdóttir) grew up together playing games and enjoying the beautiful Icelandic countryside. When the soldiers arrived they both found employment at the barracks. Then the handsome and charming Thomas (David Barclay Fenne) arrived and they both fell in love with him. The tale continues as the characters come to terms with the nature of their sexuality and an event that will affect their lives forever.
The idyll is related in the past tense with the protagonists describing events as they recall them along with the emotions they experienced. This deprives it of immediacy, vitality and urgency. The tediously slow pace is rooted firmly in the writing and direction of Anna Íris Pétursdóttir. As the plot plods along it’s all very sweet, very nice and very pleasant, it just needs a bomb to go off under it. Even the movement interludes fail to reach the aspired rank of physical theatre. The actors are clearly competent and full of potential. They are physically easy to watch and deserve better, but they are severely restrained in their craft by this production.
It’s frustrating to sit in a theatre willing a play to be better than it is or to be wishing that in some way it might be possible to take a handle to crank it up and it's unfortunate that Forget Me Nots just doesn’t live up to its name.