Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: A Sad Portrayal of the People We Become

By Kaila M. Stokes

Remember Me is presented by Scandinavian American Theater Company as part of FringeNYC. This dramatic play is written by Finland native, Minna Nurmelin. This female drama is a touching tale of complete strangers that find themselves trapped in their own thoughts and circumstances of life. The show opens with the character Anna played by, Jackie Sanders, entering the home of Helena played by, Heli Sirvio. Anna is there to appraise Helena’s house to put it on the market. Right off the bat, both characters are a little strange. Throughout the show we learn more about each woman’s life-plight.  The characters also jump back and forth between real time, past experiences and their own subconscious.
A directorial choice by director Drew O’Kane that I commend was the use of lighting to deduce between present and memory moments from the actors. Anna often visited her own subconscious. She is trying to come to terms with a diagnosis she has received from her doctor that we find out about later. Her memory goes in and out and her past blends with her present. Helena on the other hand is trapped by her own circumstances of a pending divorce, which is why she is selling the house. Helena goes in and out of her subconscious to try and decipher why/how she was put in this position.
photo by Alex Harris
Minna Nurmelin clearly likes to explore the emotional side of people put in extreme life-altering situations. The writing was well done, but almost too well-done. Ms. Nurmelin captured every thought, emotion and choice of the character. But what she did was share each and every thing with the audience. She did not allow for any thought or creativity from the audience. One’s brain was not used in the slightest during this show because Ms. Nurmelin did all of the thinking for everyone including the characters. Heli Sirvioo (playing Helena) and Jackie Sanders (playing Anna) didn’t seem to have much exploring or character development to do because all of the subconscious thought was said allowed as part of the show. A moment would happen, for example, Ana would lose her thought and then instead of dealing with this and working through it, Ana would change to her inner thoughts being shared with the audience. The entire point of theater is to stretch the imagination of the audience through thought-proving moments on stage, not tell them why or how they should be thinking.
With that being said, Heli Servio and Jackie Sanders left it all out on the stage. They played their characters very open and honest. Since there is only two of them, listening is the actual challenge. But they listened and reacted to each other in an earnest way. Drew O’Kane clearly worked with the two ladies to get them to reach those emotional highs and lows. The staging made sense and felt organic. One thing that could have been stressed a little more was the climax of the play. Since the play is somber and emotional, it needed a little bit of extra stress on the climax. It felt as though it was glazed over just and we had to move on quit quickly after learning the truth.
Overall, Remember Me, was a great attempt at capturing two women’s present and subconscious psyche.  It was enjoyable to watch this idea appear on stage, but tweaking is still needed in order to engage the audience more and quite frankly, excite the audience.