The brain is a fantastically complicated organ. The fact that we only use 1/3 of our brain power means that there are certain aspects to our minds that remain a mystery or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, heavily explained by scientific research. Memory is one function of the brain that sits in the middle of this spectrum. Despite there being countless studies completed and theories accepted in regards to our memories, it hasn’t stopped people from fantasizing about what actually happens in our minds.
Keeper, written and performed by Emma Zabloski, does exactly this. The tale of memory curator, or the Keeper, provides an interesting look at who is responsible for keeping memories in check. Overall, although I found the show’s emotional depth to be lacking, it is endearing and engaging to watch on stage and will have you wondering, by the end, what your own Keeper might be like.
Studio 311 at the University of Ottawa is dressed in what seems to be an unorganized and almost chaotic manner, with two or three clothes lines hung across the stage and seemingly random props pinned to them. The curator welcomes the audience to her host Emma’s psyche and takes them through an interactive tutorial about how sensory memory works. This show relies heavily on audience participation, so be warned if that is not your cup of tea.
The Keeper treats her host’s mind like her own personal dress-up trunk, and we see her throw herself wholeheartedly into each memory she’s required to act out. Though she doesn’t follow all of the “official rules” of the guild of Keepers, it is clear that she cares for her host dearly and does what she can to make sure Emma’s memories are safely stored and, more importantly, accessible.
The acting in this show definitely needs to be commended. The performer acts from her head to her toes and each new character is distinct from the last. Every inch of the stage is used and I was certainly entertained throughout the entire piece. As far as the one woman shows go, that I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe, this is one of the stronger ones.
My only criticism, however, is that the show focuses so much on audience participation that there doesn’t seem to be any genuine emotional connections made. Whether it is between audience and performer, audience and character, or audience member and audience member, I left feeling no attachment to this show or the character at all.
In sum, if you want to see a show that’s visually appealing, well-acted, and a full of audience participation then you will enjoy this show. However, if you’re looking for a show that will give you some sort of intellectual or emotional experience then Keeper may leave you wanting more.
Presented by Zopyra Theatre
Written and Performed by Emma Zobloski
Studio 311- BYOV E