“If you forget who you are, who are you?” asks the press release. The audience too are, purposely, confused about who’s who for much of writer/director Patrick Robertson’s new play Recursion, the debut production from Olsson Theatre company.
An amnesiac young man in a mental hospital tells us that last night he started to write a play. He’s not much of a writer, he confesses, but he had an idea and things just started to flow. If only his memory was as accessible, but he’s lost it – or locked it away, as his doctor explains.
Meanwhile, a couple, Paul and Claire are failing to communicate. They’ve already written the lines from a hundred conversations and now all that’s left is to say them, a narrator tells us.
We soon gather that Paul and Claire are characters in the patient’s drama. But what do their machinations tell us about him, his state of mind and his chance at romance with fellow patient Hayley, an obsessive-compulsive whose ability to pick locks proves crucial?
While the narrator is irksome, both the device and the performer, Recursion as a whole kept me gripped. The cleverly constructed plot leads to a nasty surprise ending, with echoes of the film Memento. This is an intriguing piece and, narrator moments aside, well acted by Robertson’s company of Newcastle University students.