By Jen McGrgeor
Bold and devastatingly sensual, Remember Me is a collaboration between Italian company Sineglossa and the Grotowski Institute. Taking its cue from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, this show imagines what might have happened to the parted lovers – not in terms of new events, but in terms of emotion and memory.
While the opera focuses on Dido’s pain and suicide after Aeneas chooses duty over love and leaves her, Remember Me portrays him burning up with longing and guilt. The only words used are hers, an excerpt from her famous aria in which she says “remember me, but ah, forget my fate”, but the voice singing them is male and Purcell’s baroque delicacy is replaced by a raw, sometime unmusical rock sound. It’s frequently not pretty, but it’s not meant to be. Instead, it is agonisingly effective.
The set is very simple, using only lights, mirrors and pitch darkness, but everything is brilliantly used. In the near-darkness of the characters’ memories we catch glimpses of their bodies, separate at first, then later with the reflections laid over each other so that the two lovers are combined into one strange, contorted, tortured figure.
Keeping this show at just 25 minutes was a bold choice, but it really pays off. It’s a perfect length to allow it to do everything it sets out to do. The story is complete, the experience is enough. To extend it to fill the standard hour-long time slot would do it harm.
If it’s not there already, put this show straight to the top of your must-see list. You won’t be disappointed.