I am going to spend the first paragraph of this review explaining the political context which drives Tom Holloway’s Forget Me Not. Generally, I am slightly wary of approaching criticism in such a way but I feel it is important; Forget Me Not skillfully touches on a fixture of British colonial history which has been seemingly brushed under the carpet for a long time:
For more than three centuries, British children were transported to colonial states across the globe. After the Second World War they were transported to Rhodesia, New Zealand, Canada and Australia in a bid to boost these nation’s populations. Tom Holloway’s Forget Me Not is a moving examination of the ramifications of the policy which are still felt today. Gerry, a big and burly Australian, travels to Liverpool to meet his mother. Gerry had been taken from her and transported across the globe at the age of four. With the support of his daughter and a charity, he seeks to discover the truth about his past, his heritage and an understanding of his identity.
Gerry, played admirably by Russell Floyd, is troubled. As an alcoholic with a regrettable past, he embodies the colonial hangover spirit. Initially, his characterisation dips towards cliché. However, Hollloway’s script twists, expands and throbs in such a way that we warm to him, offering him our sympathies. The production is also boosted by Eleanor Bron’s wonderful portrayal of Mary, his ageing Scouse mother. The dynamic between mother and son is wonderfully crafted, a credit to Holloway’s script. Holloway has a key eye for detail. A knitted Everton FC scarf serves as a symbol of things passed, things forgotten.
Forget Me Not is crafted carefully and so effectively, by Holloway. After an interval, a heart-breaking twist wrenches us into the depths of meta-theatre. We are all heart-broken as we drift towards a frail denouement. The set is stunning; a huge light which represents a camera lens engulfs the stage and its cast below. A fine piece of piano music acts as a delicate leitmotif, consistently evoking a sense of tragedy.
This is a wonderful piece of theatre, if at times a little rough around the edges. I shall be keeping an eye out for Holloway’s return to the London stage in the future.