I blame Warwick Castle for the fact that every time I see a site specific piece of theatre, I expect the ghost of Henry VII to jump out from behind a corner, but Qasim Riza Shaheen’s Misplaced Memoirs was a strictly no thrill, no scares, no gimmicks piece of theatre. It was, instead, a beautiful piece of well thought through theatre that told one man’s story as the story of many.
If you went to see his exhibition at mac and were in the majority of enjoying it but not quite understanding it, then this won’t make the exhibition make any more sense – but it’s still enjoyable. It is a personal story told through a series of strangers, jumping continents from Chicago ‘where you waited from 8:33 to 8:42, but I never came’ to Pakistan where ‘you dreamed of your ex’s ex’.
A tale is told to each of audience members through various parts of the hotel, for me winter in Chicago was depicted on the balcony and the wedding night perched on the side of the bath tub in a hotel room, and included slow dancing around the bathroom floor. The whole piece ends with a photo shoot for audience and characters, which I wish they told you before hand, otherwise I would have washed my hair and made an effort.
All in all, did it make me reassess my emotions like someone told me it would? No, but it was interesting how the hand of a stranger became more intimate and familiar as the performance went on. Was it an interesting experience in story telling that made me question what is theatre and what isn’t? Yes, I’m still not sure if the waiter who asked what floor I wanted in the lift was in the performance or not.
(One final note Qasim, if you ever read this – I’m really sorry that I trod on your beads on the bathroom floor when we danced)