An old man living in a shed is starting to lose his memory and starts to post lists of things to remember on the shed’s walls. He works slowly; around him three narrators/detectives deduce facts about his life from the items in his shed. The Darkroom takes a very superficial look at the importance of memory and the tragedy of its loss. It asks fascinating questions about why we remember the things we do and whether emotional memories should be remembered over daily routines. Sadly, Witness Theatre has only scratched at the surface of these ideas rather than providing the depth required to make the show truly successful.
The production employs a list of devices that appear to have no real reason or motivation behind them. For instance, each audience member was handed a scarf, a small bag of potpourri, and a toffee that we were never required to use. The performance also features multimedia, interpretive dance, and a mysterious narrating child who didn’t seem to have a real role in the production at all.
The use of projection improves throughout the show and the old memories on film add some much-needed sentimentality to a play that suffers from clinical acting and a lack of emotion. The strongest moments are when some feeling creeps in, and the audience can’t help but think about their own memories and the frightening thought of losing them. The play was much too long, and the monotonous repetition of almost every line two or three times felt like a time-filler in the second half of the production. The idea here is profound, but what Witness Theatre has to say about the idea is obscure.