Daniel Cooksey’s new play Forget Me Not almost plays out like a Black Mirror episode. It tells the story of Jay (Sophie Gray) and Keira (Lily Lefkow-Green), a supposedly happy couple whose lives are turned upside-down when Jay goes searching for the cause of her amnesia – as she cannot remember any events from before five years previously. Cooksey’s dramedy is a thought-provoking and entertaining hour, although I couldn’t help but feel it could have done with a bit more polish.
Firstly, the acting was strong throughout. Lefkow-Green was the clear standout, managing her role with a fierce playfulness and humour that fit her wily, sarcastic character. Keira’s main role was to facilitate Jay’s cultural education after losing all memory of film, TV, music and other pop culture in her amnesia. As Jay’s girlfriend, Lefkow-Green deftly handled both the comedy and the serious elements of the play. Sophie Gray was also enjoyable as Jay and she easily held my interest, although the performance may have been stronger with a bit more nuance; despite this, she held the play together well. Shanghavie Loganathan played Jay’s therapist, Kafka, again with humour and irreverence, and I found myself frustrated by the character’s annoying qualities, a mark of Loganathan’s skills. And finally, Glyn Owen played Harry, the mysterious figure who catalyses the main action of the play in Jay’s self-discovery of her previous life. Owen started off as a bit of a creep, but later in a monologue he became very tense and he conveyed well the anger and darker nature running through the character; that being said, he also toed the line between a disturbing performance and an excessive one, so I wonder if toning down this scene ever so slightly would make it more believable. The acting, overall, worked well on stage.
The writing itself was unique and original, which I massively appreciated. I enjoyed the dialogue and the balance between the sillier aspects of the play and its more serious themes worked well. However, I did think that the script could have been developed a little more. There were a lot of complex ideas in the play, as it dealt with themes of redemption, forgiveness, mental illness, LGBTQ+ issues and religious tolerance, but some of these ideas were much more developed than others. The inclusion of comments of LGBTQ+ acceptance, for example, felt slightly superfluous especially compared to the rest of the plot, and its brief mentions highlighted its incongruity with the rest of the play. To adapt this play, I would consider editing it to give more depth to the main themes by reducing the secondary ideas; for an hour-long production, it perhaps just tries to tackle too much. I somewhat struggled to discern the main moral of the play as it became slightly lost amidst all the themes presented. Overall, however, the script clearly has a lot of potential and I think Cooksey has done a commendable job; it just needs that final bit of editing and polish to push it into excellence.
The staging was well utilised; the Burton Taylor Studio feels so different for every play and tonight the space felt huge. It was good also that the actors utilised the whole space, and the minimal set worked whilst not removing focus from the action. Luke Thornhill’s lighting and sound design was also minimalist but well-conceived, only appearing when necessary and never feeling like an intrusion. One thing I would mention was that some of the scene changes could have been smoother, but overall this did not detract from the performance.
Forget Me Not is an interesting play that gets a lot right. The acting is successful and the script is well-written, but as I said it could do with some streamlining to give the issues the depth and complexity that they deserve. But if you want to see an intriguing piece of new writing that showcases a lot of talent, this play is the one for you. You won’t forget it in a hurry.