Souvenir (Dead Centre)
Theatre Republic, La Boite Studio
September 6 – 10
“Souvenir” is very festival is its feel (#inagoodway), so perfectly suited to a showing at Brisfest’s Theatre Republic precinct. Pre-show audience members see its performer Bush Moukarzel centre stage but facing the wall, jogging on a treadmill, surrounded by a clutter of cardboard boxes. Even as the boxes tumble, however, and pages are cascaded through the air, there is a clear deliberateness to the mess. The obscurely labelled boxes (‘mum’, ‘the theatre’, ‘bacon’, ‘broken glass’, ‘dust’ etc etc) signpost, in some part, the focus of the story he goes on the share, and also house its range of equally obscure supporting props.
Moukarzel is an engaging performer as the lovelorn protagonist, meaning that never does interest wane, despite its patchy narrative based on the world’s longest book, the French classic, “Remembrance of Things Past (In Search of Lost Time)” by Marcel Proust. The story is of his love and loss of the ambiguous Albertine (to give relatability to the assumed predominantly straight audience), but it is also so much more in its story of exploration of memory, jealousy and time, meaning that familiarity with Proust is no prerequisite to its appreciation.
With a content range from Springsteen to some maths equations, “Souvenir” is a difficult show to define; the fragmented nature of its hour long meditation on personal and social amnesia is reflection of the ideas of time and memory, so core to its premise. It is certainly quirky, featuring as it does, the most memorable of endings as audience members engage in a communal personal experience though the lenses of their very own viewmasters. But beyond its idiosyncrasies it is a very well-written work, clever in its self-awareness with Brisfest references and meta-theatre mentions of, for example of what worked in dress rehearsal, in conjunction with its use of text from all range of other sources from T. S. Eliot and William Shakespeare to Orson Wells and even Charlie Kaufman.
Most of all, “Souvenir” provides insight into human observations and is, consequently, full of ideas for audience members to ponder, especially around the question of ‘what do we really know anyway’, making it a worthwhile festival feature.