MNEMONIC BY COMPLICITE
The Naked Truth About The Euro Immigrant
On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, the international touring group from London, Complicite paints a bold and chaotic picture of the European immigrant experience with in-your-face full frontal, primordial images of climate change and Stone Age icemen.
Mnemonic grapples with the fragmented yet creative aspects of memory as seen through the grieving mind of an estranged couple as they struggle to maintain long-distance contact over a 9 month period.
Carlos Saldana manically begins the intercontinental journey with a seminar on what he deems ‘one of the last great mysteries’. The subject is memory and the strange biochemistry of the brain that blends imagination and creativity, which he feels is essential.
He also plays one of the central characters along with Teresa Spencer as Alice the grieving millennial who just lost her mother and leaves her boyfriend Virgil hanging with only a cryptic voice mail message.
Saldana morphs from the lecturer to the house set-up guy who asks the audience to silence their electronic devices but suddenly falls down the Mnemonic rabbit hole as a series of cellphone calls connect the dots and fill the void of his lost relationship.
Alice’s misadventures take her from Paris to the Russian Steppes in search of blind leads about a newly discovered father figure as she encounters the oddest mix of Greek cab drivers, French archeologists, Italian scientists, and Bulgarian journalists who rip her off in more ways than one.
The ensemble cast of Michael Burgos, Elena Day, Jon Reynolds, Vanita Kalra and Jonathan David Martin create a mosaic of mystical characters that keep the two hour performance moving at a brisk pace as they weave in a sub-plot on the Austrian-Italian border of the discovery of an iceman.
Movement director Dody DiSanto of the Center for Movement Theater deserves praise for blending the talents of Cirque du Soleil performers like Elena Day with the mime like expressions of Michael Burgos and the spot-on erudite dialogue of Jon Reynolds who channels several everyman Aryan characters from wanna-be Anderson Coopers to racialist archeologist attempting to explain the origins of the Iceman.
The other fascinating feature that triggers primordial memories are the back wall visuals by projection designer Patrick Lord that provides the ensemble with the perfect vehicle to use movement and mime to explain the mysteries of climate change on the African sand dunes and their impact on glaciers a continent away.
The Theater Alliance and director Colin Hovde are known for producing thought provoking work and engaging the community in compelling dialogue about contemporary social issues. Be prepared to examine a few new branches of the family tree through the shattered psyche of working class immigrants from the Baltics to the Bronx. Playing at the Anacostia Playhouse on Thursdays through Sunday from March 16th to April 9th, Mnemonic is definitely for mature audience and includes some nude scenes as the playwright seems to have a fascination with frequent bedroom settings.
The Theater Alliance also plans audience talk back sessions after several matinee performances and offers student/military and group discounts. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.theateralliance.com/project/mnemonic or call  241-2539. (c) Malcolm Lewis Barnes 2017. Photos by Teresa Wood.