6 August 2011

2401 Objects at Jacksons Lane

2401 Objects was at Jacksons Lane for just one night in preparation for Edinburgh and that was an opportunity that I was not going to miss as it was produced by Analogue the company behind Beachy Head.

And like Beachy Head, it was a production that told a sometimes harrowing story in a clever way.

2401 Objects tells the true story of Henry Molaison who emerge from experimental brain surgery in 1953 without any recollection of the last two years of his life or the ability to form new memories.

We see Henry has a young man heavily constrained by his epilepsy that his heavy regime of drugs is not controlling. He lives at home looked after by his parents and is wary of going out and of meeting other people.

The surgery is experimental and drastic with severe consequences and Henry becomes a goldfish living in a perpetual present punctuated with a few memories of his former life.

The story is told as a history and we see the both old Henry in a nursing home and the young Henry with the story flipping between the two.

In the nursing home we see his nurse and doctor and in the family home his two parents. The cast doubles by with, for example, Henry's father also playing the old Henry and his mother the nurse.

The story's narrator is a neurologist with a professional interest in Henry's brain and its his action and the end that produces the 2401 objects of the title. But I'll not spoil the surprise for you.

The story is a good one and it's well told.

The storytelling is similar to Beachy Head with storytelling being part of the story. In this case it is the neurologist who guides through Henry's life. And also like Beachy Head, the story is tense with one moment of almost excruciating emotion that haunts long after the play has finished.

The staging is clever too, possibly a little too clever. A translucent screen slides and rotates to divide the stage as the scenes shift. It works and is effective but there were times, such as when cast members were crawling under it, that I felt that it was being overused. But, on balance, it worked better than not and was another plus point for the show.

There was another packed house at Jacksons Lane showing that there is an appetite for new, experimental and challenging theatre; not everybody wants to see Wicked. This was simply another fine example of why I keep going to the theatre and especially the smaller ones.

And the evening ended on an unexpected note. Taking the 65 bus in Richmond on the final leg home the couple next to me mentioned Jacksons Lane. I was happy to tell them that it is a great venue and is easy to get to despite its northerly location. Spread the word.

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