Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing, "Mnemonic", originally conceived and directed by Simon McBurney. The performance was at the Anacostia Playhouse in Anacostia. I was kindly greeted and given a baggie with a leaf and a blindfold. As I looked at the baggie and begin to smile, I was simply told, “You will find out soon.” I was immediately intrigued. As I found my seat in the front row I overheard the chatter behind me as folks wondered what the blindfold and the leaf were for. Many began to speculate and be silly while others in my row gently looked at the items pondering how and why we had them, but keeping them safe in their baggie.
At the start of the play Virgil (Carlos Saldana) has a monologue that left me in tears as he talks through his internal thoughts and his memory which were darting, focused, stagnant and fluid. I was dying! As the lights dim and the plastic curtain is drawn we are asked to put on our blindfold and to feel the lines in the leaf and how the lines in the leaf may be parallel to our lives. What is our lifeline? Do we know where we come from? I found that to be a very centering way to begin.
There were a couple of stories that solidly intertwined throughout the play. Saldana’s partner, (Teresa Spencer) Alice suddenly leaves him after him after her mother’s funeral. After nine-months they are able to reconnect when she phones him from Europe which is when she tells him she is looking for traces of her father; an identity she was recently found out about. Her abrupt disappearance left him with unanswered questions needing and wanting her to return so they can continue where they left off. She however, needed answers as she wondered, if you can’t trace your past can you relate to your future. Spencer’s performance was gripping and sincere. The other storyline is the findings of the Iceman. A body (frozen) from 5,000 years ago that was found in the Austrian Alps. While Alice and Virgil’s story is being told and quickly unfolding the story of the Iceman is unfolding – who is was, how he lived and died and simultaneously we found out who Alice’s father was and how lived and died. This was done seamlessly.
The simplicity of the stage was a perfect complement to the lighting which I would describe as magical and complimentary playing its own distinct part in the show.
Each actor is worth noting, but my personal standout is, Carlos Saldana as Virgil. He was an incredible twist of comedy and seriousness.
Director Colin Hovde has put together an amazing show – nicely done! I encourage you to go see "Mnemonic" it runs through April 9, 2017 at the Anacostia Playhouse located at 2020 Shannon Place, SE Washington DC 20020. For tickets call: 202-290-2328 or visit Theater Alliance’s website.
Running Time: Just under 2 hours with no intermission