Inspired by the true story of the ‘theft’ of Einstein’s brain by an American pathologist, Incognito weaves together three stories, set in the past and present, involving the workings of the brain it’s effects on people, and the connections it makes, both internally and externally.
Written by Nick Payne, directed by Paul Conway and performed by a cast of ten BA students from the University of South Wales, we veer from the pathologist to a modern neuropsychologist, and a patient with memory problems.
Set in an enclosed space, the actors manage to create an impressive show, with fully fleshed out characters, taking us from London to New Jersey to Kansas. The scenes range from a medical exam of a man with brain damage, to a first date, to a diner, leading us to questions of memory, identity and what makes us who we are.
Henry, the patient, suffers short-term memory loss, yet always remembers his love for Margaret through the years. Evelyn wonders if she’s Einstein’s daughter. Thomas wants to make a scientific breakthrough. Martha wants to start afresh with Patricia. All of them, one way or the other, defined by the workings of the human brain.
All the actors get their chance to shine in a fine ensemble piece. Laura Maggs gives us a sympathetic Margaret who sabotages her own efforts to connect with Patricia, a charming Gabrielle Dunn.
James Lawrence’s Henry is heartbreaking, managing to keep the repetition of ‘Hello my love’ constantly fresh. Kieran McCutcheon keeps Thomas from becoming a cliche mad scientist while clearly showing his desperation, and Charlotte Dolan as his wife Elouise is a fine foil to him.
Hannah Moreno makes Evelyn layered and complex, Lucy Gooding’s Margaret evokes love’s gain and loss, and Shaunie Williams Welsh waitress is earthy and warm. Liam Edmunds is delightfully seedy as the reporter.
Tom Dyer, playing five roles, goes from drama to comedy with ease, and finds the humour in the simplest of lines.
If this young cast is typical of students coming through, then I look forward with great keenness to seeing such quality in the future.
To find out more about BA Theatre and Drama at USW, click here.