Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Accidental Nostalgia: An Operetta About the Pros and Cons of Amnesia
Cynthia Hopkins with Jim Findley and Jeff Sugg
Accidental Nostalgia does weird things to you. Take one part meditation on memory loss; two parts pseudo scientific claptrap; three parts very fine music, stir using dollops of technology, and have the whole lot directed by the divine Cynthia Hopkins. Add a band driven on by the mad hatter on drums.
And I have no idea what you get, but its really good.
At its simplest, the play offers an exploration of memory loss, of what was or might have been. Its about the ways in which we knowingly construct our own and other people’s lives. Its a piece of performance art, highly stylised, excellently produced and daringly presented.
Cynthia Hopkins takes centre stage. In turn a neurologist, her own mother,the murderer of her father, a returnee to her home town, a sufi in Morocco, its all utterly absurd, brilliantly inventive and provocatively played. Its also full of imagery drawn out from the dark side. Lots of sympathy with the devil.
Hopkins is a quite extraordinary and beguiling performer. Her vocal range is awesomely powerful, her sense of presence utterly compelling, and her capacity to endear and enrage apparently limitless.
Jim Findley and Jeff Sugg provide a range of technology to support and enhance the performance. Its clever, but surprisingly low tech in todays digital world. Not in the gadgets, but in the ways the toys are used. The two are also dancing partners for Hopkins.
Sugg in particular is astonishingly light on his feet. A veritable Fred Astaire for Hopkins’ Ginger Rogers. It is beguiling to watch.
It really doesnt matter what this thing is all about. It just happens. Its an experience. It is New Yorkist after all.
Do go and see it. It is a walk on the wild side. Its what the Fringe is supposed to be all about. Its weird, confusing, engaging, off-putting, haunting and well worth watching all at once.
And 24 hours after this discourse on amnesia, you will struggle to remember what it is all about. But it won’t matter and you will have had a great time.