Edinburgh Fringe 2018
n 1941, Iceland was full of English and American troops. They changed the whole country but particularly affected the women, many of whom made regular trips to the barracks to dance, drink and get intimate with the soldiers. The locals called this The Situation. But not only women were affected. Forget Me Nots is a love story between a young Icelandic man and an English soldier. Set up as a series of overlapping monologues, it shows them telling their story. It’s about love, new priorities and the people that got hurt along the way.
Set in British-occupied Iceland in 1940 Forget Me Nots is told through monologues, short acted scenes and movement. This production aptly combines Icelandic and English artists to tell a story oft heard, but from a different angle.
Lounge music, and three chairs onstage greet us with strings of tiny blue lights hanging along the back wall. Greta, sitting in the middle observes us as she smokes continuously. Two young men arrive and put on army uniforms. Next, the two men, one Icelandic and the other English speak their monologues directly to the audience. Each is personable and ready to tell their story, how they met and served together in Iceland.
Greta together with the two male characters form a type of love triangle and there is much flirting and a few references to elves! Two of these characters enjoyed finishing off the evenings talking and enjoying sitting on the grass until midnight. They discuss love and what it means if you kiss someone. The pair goes on a date to a dance in the barracks, making the third character jealous.
This young company has developed a promising piece incorporating physical acting and spoken words through several monologues. Its strength is its simplicity and clear storytelling. There is never a doubt about what is happening – and we find out the significance of the small blue lights.
The performances are fresh and the actors listen to each other, react and interact with sincerity. Their spoken lines are clear and the physical acting is sound. However, the piece could benefit from further development of the physical theatre aspect of the show.
One thing we do learn is that it is quiet in Iceland, the opposite of London and the couple talk about how they can cover their relationship from the small Icelandic community. One of the characters suggests a long-term solution, and they go for it.
In the dialogue there are interesting references to the different cultures, languages and skewed meaning when translated. The pacing and flow of the piece is steady, then dynamic and sometimes gentle, which is appropriate for the story. There are tender moments among the three characters as well as conflict. Greta is the one who becomes a force in the relationships and this element is fascinating. The play is well staged using minimal props and set. It is a bitter-sweet memory play, where everyone experiences different outcomes. Recommended!