CamdenNewJournal

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Review: Past Perfect, at Etcetera Theatre

One-act play examines memory and how different perspectives contradict each other

11 July, 2019 — By Catherine Usher

Patricia Magno, Robin Morrissey and Bethan Cullinane in Past Perfect

ALTHOUGH Past Perfect initially appears to be a rather whimsical relationship drama, it gradually reveals itself as more substantial.

Examining memory and how different perspectives contradict each other, this one-act play runs a gauntlet of emotions during its 45-minute running time.

Patricia Magno is a calming presence as Nell, a wise, middle-aged spectator, who watches a young couple’s relationship develop from the sidelines.

Robin Morrissey presents Gary as a gentle giant – witty, amiable and rather full-on – while Bethan Cullinane’s Aurelia is more reserved but equally smitten.

With time hanging over the trio, highlighted by the clock that dangles over the stage (often precariously close to Gary’s head), the brevity of the performance enhances its impact.

Playwright Philip Holt certainly allows his characters to be imperfect – confident yet brittle, enthusiastic yet demanding, daring yet needy – and their unpredictability adds to the audience’s doubts about how their memories differ from the truth.

Ultimately the technique encourages the audience to dissect and decipher long after time has run out on the story itself.

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