Printable CopyFORGET ME NOT
The Stirling Players
Stirling Community Theatre
Until 04 Mar 2017

Review by Anthony Vawser

If sometimes we go to the theatre to laugh and be lightly entertained, sometimes we go to be confronted by a human experience that generates empathy and reaches out to people who are hurting and needing. At its best, “Forget Me Not” has the power to open a window of understanding into an unfamiliar world – though, as director Megan Dansie perceptively points out in her programme notes, this is a story that has taken place in our own country; it deserves to be told, and to be seen.

Tom Holloway’s script may be challenging to some viewers in the themes that it tackles, as well as in its storytelling structure, but it is generally very accessible in its language, and is cleverly written without ever being cryptic. The presence of humour to leaven the atmosphere is most welcome (even if the opening scene of the second act goes almost too far in this regard). Dansie and Malcolm Horton’s set design – in tandem with Danny Gibbins’ lighting – seems elusively symbolic at first; only on later reflection will its significance become more apparent.

Tony Busch – playing the central figure of Gerry – delivers a towering portrayal of a man torn by inner conflict and tormented by past injustice, but visibly desperate to break through the walls he has built around himself. Angela Short – in the role of elderly Mary – proves herself as accomplished a dramatic actress as she is a comedic one; the progress and evolution of her relationship with Busch’s Gerry is the bruised and beating heart of this play, depicted in scenes made up of such finely calibrated elements – script, direction, performance – that they may leave you holding your breath in anticipation and admiration.

Playing Gerry’s grown daughter Sally, Alicia Zorkovic does nicely in representing the kind of tough-loving relationship between a woman and her father where she knows that something is deeply wrong, but wonders if anything she can reasonably do will help, feeling all the while that there is only so much more of Gerry’s self-destructiveness that she can handle. Aaron MacDonald perhaps brings a touch more overt nervousness to social worker Mark than this reviewer would have thought completely credible – principally in the second act – but it’s a likeable and empathic portrayal nonetheless.

“Forget Me Not” is well-titled: a journey you will long remember, but one that recognises the benefits of leaving its audience feeling hopeful.

Tony Busch is a reviewer for ATG.