The “romantic and provocative” Remember Me, while initially a little obtuse, strikes a neat balance between art installation, audible sensation and theatrical performance. It was staged within Summerhall’s sombre “Black Tent”, a large steel and canvas structure whose name grew even more apt upon entering its dim insides, where the audience sit lit sparsely by muted spots. This dingy lighting faded to total darkness sometime before the performance’s opening, making vision unnervingly impossible at first. A cassette crackled throughout, beginning with stock “eerie” sounds joined by a lurching operatic vocal whose prevalence by the finale is huge.
Throughout the performance are experiments with gender representation and with theatrical presentation: it is split into roughly three different stages, each more surreal than the previous. The actors stand first behind a thin sheet of glass that dominates the darkened stage; then obscured from direct view but angularly reflected forward. They eventually retreat entirely behind split mirrors for the finale. However despite this increasing complexity of setting throughout, it is the earlier stages that feel the more obtuse: the female lead facing away from the audience and stripping slowly, subtly and sensuously but never sexily seems a little overwrought, and the stuttering nature of the tenor track played over the occasionally deafening PA clearly made it difficult for the performers to mimic it with total accuracy.
The highlight and what truly ignites the act is the final sequence, listed most accurately in the program as an “unexpected mirage” designed to show the conflict between male and female representation. The sight of actor and actress (a word used purely for gender indication) stripped naked and cavorting, entwined but totally separate in a whirling, blending maelstrom caused by skipping from scene to scene via a trick mirror was visually fascinating. It took impressive technical acumen to blend the two performer’s jerky movements together under the now bellowing tenor and pulsating strobe lights but it was their contorted, snarling expressions of anguish that resonated with an accessibility that meant this audience sat in an uncomfortable silence long after the house lights rose. Though initially difficult to penetrate, Remember Me is an intriguing and challenging performance that displays creditable ingenuity and is worth sticking with.