Mark Ludmon reviews Hold On Let Go now playing at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2019.
I saw over 100 shows at the theatre last year but please don’t quiz me about them, and certainly not the ones I saw 20 years ago. I have an A Level in German but could barely order lunch in Munich a few months ago, and it’s a mystery how I ever passed exams in physics and maths. In Unfolding Theatre’s new show Hold On Let Go, Luca Rutherford and Alex Elliott explore the unreliability of memory, from GCSE History to childhood experiences, and what it means to forget something important.
Directly addressing the audience, the pair easily draw us into their meditations upon memory. For Alex, the challenge is trying to remember the voice of his late mother as he demonstrates to us – without needing a written recipe – how to make sourdough bread. On a grander scale, there are the things forgotten from history, maybe deliberately, such as atrocities during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
Luca, who wrote the show, shares her own anxieties about forgetfulness in a way that surely resonates with many of us, taking us on a dream-like journey into her “bank of forgetting”. She reveals the voice in her head (and mine) that accuses her of being stupid and lazy if something important about history or current affairs slips her mind.
Through it all, there is food and music – two of the most important repositories of memory. Evoking a cookery demonstration, Simon Henderson’s set features a colourful kitchen that opens up to reveal a striking backdrop of glittering starlight. The music comes from Paul Smith, frontman and lyricist with rock bank Maxïmo Park, noting how songs can be like “time capsules” that store up our past. Directed by Annie Rigby, Hold On Let Go is poignant and personal, filled with warmth like a comforting hug.
Running to 25 August 2019