Clown Funeral’s 2017 production Things We Chose To Save explores the exploitation of breakthroughs in technology. It’s almost a reversal of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with a company creating a way of capturing memories and recreating them in video/hologram form (it’s never quite clear). Instead of using the memory replications for medical benefits, though, project boss Vic is more concerned with the profits to be made by selling it to media companies, and as the story progresses, family and financial conflicts become the focus.
The play begins with an engaging monologue. A marketing ‘recording’ of Vic discussing examples of formal memory-keeping (songs, films, photographs) captures the audience’s interest and opens up an interesting concept—the idea of taking this recording of memories one step further. However, the following scenes are then a little stilted and less exciting. The world built in the play feels incomplete. The setting isn’t very defined in terms of time or place and there isn’t much context beyond the conversations we see. Characterisation could be developed further too. Each of the actors is confident and some of the humour works well—this strength could have been played on further—but it takes too long to piece together the characters’ backgrounds and relationships.
The set is simplistic, not a problem in itself, but it means that the blocking of the performers becomes confusing at times. Actors often don’t face one another in conversation. Instead, they either gaze into the audience or stand far apart on stage looking off in disparate directions. Perhaps the intended effect is to give us the impression of metaphoric separation or suggest that we, the audience, are camera lenses. The odd directorial choice is fairly distracting, though.
The premise here is interesting—the recreation of memories through technology—but this huge concept gets bogged down in plot without effective tension. Before we’ve even reached the play’s climax, it already feels like a lost opportunity.
Things We Chose To Save is available to watch on Youtube here