100

100

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100

Written by Diene Petterie, Neil Monaghan & Christopher Heimann

Directed by Nuala Donnelly

Brian Friel Theatre, Belfast

(19/02/2013)

Welcome to death. The clock is ticking.Choose a memory and choose carefully.

100 transports its audience to the waiting room of Eternity: a place with no future or no plans, where all you have is your memories and you may select only one that you will relive forever. In this purgatorial antechamber five deceased characters in shabby underclothes, in limbo awaiting their final acceptance by death, are in search of their most precious memory. It soon transpires that one of them, played superbly by Danny Cunningham is a Charon-like figure who will conduct the others to their final resting place. A handful of bamboo sticks and an orange help recreate an office Christmas party, a South American rainforest, a London tube ride and a French motorbike race.

Alex (James Boal) and Nia (Shannon Magnano) are lovers, they jointly recall their first meeting, and relive their personal thoughts and feelings but memory plays tricks whilst Alex’s honesty has devastating consequences. Meanwhile, workaholic Sophie, delicately performed by Holly Conlon, is forced to reconsider her frantic existence only to discover how hollow her life really was. Finally, African villager Ketu (Ben Grant) cannot forget his childhood discovery that the world is not flat and his sceptical villagers refuse to believe him. It is only after death that Ketu finds his personal peace and acknowledges he was right all along. Each memory is highly physicalised and director Nuala Donnelly’s choreography plays an integral part to the play’s success.

100’s driving narrative emanates from the ancient Greek myth of Charon and the River Styx: a recurrent theme in Western literature. Charon, (like The Guide in 100), acts as the ferryman of the dead, transporting his passengers across the river to Hades, but only once they have paid for their passage with a silver coin Similarly in 100, the Guide only allows his deceased cargo to pass into eternity if their memories are chosen selflessly and honestly.

Drawing upon Greek myth, writers; Petterie, Monaghan and Heimann create a script that asks philosophical questions like, what is essential in life? Juggling such metaphysical thoughts in the air,  Donnelly and her cast produce an engaging, thought-provoking production, hard to fault either in its detail or scope. However, the play itself gets somewhat lost in its own purgatory as towards the end, 100 struggles for momentum as the mixture of memory monologues and wearisome discussion of the rules of the characters’ situation drag on. Nonetheless, 100 makes us reflect on our own lives as we consider which memories we would keep…. and why.

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