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The memory of objects
(University of Alicante, Auditorium, 12/06/2014)
Directing and playwriting by Pascual Carbonell.
Company: Theatre Club of Alicante’s Permanent University.
Musical arrangements by Antonio Boronat.
Stage design and lighting by Jordi Chico.
Staging by UPUA.

Voices trapped inside objects

Review by Davide Mombelli

In his In Praise of Darkness, Jorge Luis Borges wrote: “they’ll long outlast our oblivion / and never know that we are gone”. Objects, those knickknacks that frequently lie in our storage rooms, forgotten and forsaken, do have memory. Objects are witnesses to their time; time leaves its stamp on the clothes, books, fashion trends and toys that are used by a whole generation. Beyond the teenage years that our consumer society seems to permanently live in, there are the old, useless objects that tell us the stories of our parents and grandparents’ habits and peculiarities. In his Memory of Objects, Pascual Carbonell’s aim was to free the voices that are trapped inside objects: an old frying pan or a yellowing Rafael Alberti book piled up in a flea market can be the perfect starting point to evocate a complex and ambiguous time in Spanish history such as the transition to democracy. The characters in this play, written and directed by Carbonell, tell the stories of their lives, their great loves and their failures in a series of intertwined stories that are constantly connected with the history of those tumultuous years. The main thread that links all the stories together is the presence of the main characters: Paco, a hopeless dreamer, and Eleuteria, the owner of one of the flea market stands.

The narrative approach is interesting and allows for the story to flow from the present into the past and backwards without sounding too abrupt, hence creating a suggestive chronological dialectics. One of the characters would pick up one of the objects sold by Eleuteria and start speaking about his or her past. The scene then moves to thirty or forty years ago, and the narrator becomes the protagonist of the story. However, this narrative structure is repeated with no modifications perhaps a little too frequently, which makes the play a bit monotonous. This being said, it is also true that the monotony of the text is compensated by the vitality of the dialogues. Pascual Carbonell smartly stays away from the elegiac and nostalgic evocation of the past and instead sprinkles the stories with jokes and funny anecdotes that are sometimes extremely clever.

The staging was also very smart: behind a quite realistic flea market set there was a curtain made from newspaper sheets, a visual metaphor that goes very well with the plot of the play. Sitting on a bench on the left side of the stage was Paco (Antonio Boronat), who accompanied the play with his guitar music.
Live music was also one of the best things about “The memory of objects”, for actors not only played their roles, but also played songs from the time that the action was set in. This was a great success, as proven by the audience’s enthusiastic applauses that even caused unorthodox interruptions to the show on several occasions.

Also remarkable was the very respectable performance of the amateur actors from the Permanent University, who played very realistic roles. Some of them had even been live witnesses to the events that were narrated. The deep, torn voice of Antonio Boronat (Paco), and the agility and freshness of Eleuteria (played by Pepa Antón) were also noteworthy.

One of the key characters in the play is Eleuteria’s husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Arturo mixes up memories, lives in a blur of reality and fiction, and cannot recognize his loved ones. In the face of this terrible amnesia whose presence in our generation grows every day, “The memory of objects” stays away from a rhetoric and simplistic approach to our tumultuous past. The result is a nice, fun play that mostly makes us think... and recall.

Attached file: La memoria de los objetos-2869IMG_1134

VEU - Cultural Magazine of the University of Alicante

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