Mnemonic: Assisting or intended to assist in a memory. It is important to keep this definition in mind when you see Quantum Theatre’s newest play of the same name, Mnemonic (running now through July 28th). The show, which features dual storylines with slight connections, creates an intense interwoven plot that sometimes becomes difficult to follow closely. It becomes important to look past the telling of the discovery of the perfectly preserved iceman, as well as the story of a woman searching for her long lost father, but instead look at the connections between the two stories. It seems that there is more in how you connect the two stories than how they play out in front of you.
The show was devised by British theater troupe, Complicite, between 1999 and 2001 and was awarded several drama and design awards for the intermixing of text and images. Complicite is known for their emphasis of lacing a text with projections, poetics, and strong movement pieces to create a style of visual and devised theater, and have been perfecting this since 1983. They state that the main principles of their work are “seeing what is most alive, integrating text, music, image and action to create surprising disruptive theater,” as they have most certainly done with Mnemonic.
As always when you see a Quantum show, the space was just as impressive as the tale that is being played out in front of the audience. Mnemonic Director and Quantum’s Artistic Director, Karla Boos, takes you to the Kirkwood Building in East Liberty for all performances of the show (that begin promptly at 8pm). The room is a partially renovated retail space located on North Highland Avenue between Penn Avenue and Penn Circle North. The playing space is sterile white and very sparsely decorated, only containing two pillars, multiple doors, and one oversize boulder. The use of lights and mobile furniture turns the blank space into scientific labs, train cars, and various apartments in a flawless choreographed dance. This blank space is paired together with Complicite style projections to help the audience draw connections between the two stories.
The actors in the show do a great job at portraying the many characters in many time frames and locals. Sometimes it becomes more important to listen to the dialect of the actor than as to what they are actually saying, so you have a context to where the snip of action is taking place. The most praise should go to Carolina Loyola-Garcia, for her portrayal of Alice and her search for a father who she believed had been dead for many years. She exudes an earnest want to find her father, and uses any clue she can to piece together the story of her long lost parent.
If you are looking for something that strays a little away from mainstream theater, then Mnemonic is for you. Be ready to piece together the play, connection by connection, synapse by synapse, for the more you can link the more the play comes together into a more linear plot. Also be ready to arrive early, for there is no late seating and not all seats have equal viewing. One final caution: This show features nudity!
When is it?
Runs until July 28th, Wednesdays through Sundays, 8:00pm
Where is it?
Kirkwood Building, East Liberty
215 N. Highland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
How much is it?
$36-$49; Select student tickets available for $18