Review: What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant

A little elusive in nature but utterly enrapturing, devised piece What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories) makes for an exhilarating evening at BOLD Elephant

“Some of you are novels, some of you are pamphlets”

Sometimes there’s a comfort in knowing what a play is ‘about’, ie policeman arrives at a snowed-in guesthouse to solve a crime (or does he?). But equally, there’s a certain pleasure in turning up to a production not really knowing what to expect and even by the end, still unable to encapsulate what one has just seen in an easy soundbite. Sometimes theatre is just about being there. 

I should probably start off by saying that I thought What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories) was absolutely fantastic, and that I could have meandered through another hour or so of it. Ostensibly, we’re in the world of The Agency, attending a series of seminars and workshops about how to tell stories but it is the final night before the company is closing down and the staff are starting to go off-book.

And so as we’re hived off into small groups to workshop biographies or poetry, we’re actually bearing witness to some serious soul-bearing. An achingly poignant exploration of cultural identity, a journey back to visits to your nan, a desolate sketch of unhappiness, an unsettling detour into gothic strangeness. There’s a powerful intimacy to this mode of delivery and an all-encompassing cohesiveness that binds it together so very well. 

Even as we move into the world of period drama (stay with me) and then deconstructing that further, Sarah Davey-Hull’s direction holds steady. And its all the more impressive given that What They Forgot… is a devised piece, springing from the minds of Keeran Blessie, Youness Bouzinab, Phoebe Naughton, Julia Pilkington and Rhys Slade-Jones, equally enrapturing from all sides, even if I still can’t really tell you what it is ‘about’.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Ali Wright
What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories) is booking at BOLD Elephant until 14th November, it’s a lightly promenade show so be prepared for a couple of flights of stairs

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