It’s been a while since we’ve been to our local theatre. And every time we come back we are reminded what a lovely theatre it is. With its bar and ice cream fridge, the coziest of library chill-outs, with play texts of all styles lining the shelves, and of course, the exceptional space that always puts on good theatre.
This time it was Australian playwright Tom Holloway’s ‘Forget Me Not’, a collaboration between the Bush Theatre and HighTide Festival Theatre that brought us down the road to the Bush. Based on the shocking practice of the British government sending ‘orphaned’ children to Australia whilst their mothers were told they were going to a better life with a Catholic family. The reality was that these children were being sent, amongst other things, to work on farms in the Australian outback as child labourers.
Russell Floyd starred as a man struggling to overcome the hardship he has faced in his life, having been one of the children sent to Australia. Through the work of his daughter and an organisation working to reunite lost family members who were victims to this horrible practice, he ‘meets’ his mother, played by an exceptional Eleanor Bron.
The show was presented in the traverse with simple staging. There were huge concrete columns down the side of the stage and a ceiling that went up or down depending on the scene. There were also light bulbs around the side that lit up depending on the action. Technically, the use of sound and light was effective in cutting up the different scenes, although at points the volume of the music, Corelli’s La Folia, did become a bit intense.
Steven Atkinson has directed a very intense play that presents us with a shocking part of our history. Well acted throughout and presented in such a way that it made a lasting impression. It is, however, Russell Floyd’s central character that informs the atmosphere of this play. It is his hyper-active energy, anger, and childlike anticipation, that bring real humanity to this piece as we watch a man find a kind of resolution to his life.
Good performances from Sarah Ridgeway and Sargon Yelda in the supporting roles and overall a very enjoyable, if intense, night of theatre.
Dramatic Highlight of the piece – Any of Russell’s intense boozing moments, or more momentously the moment when he finds out the truth about his mother.