Melanie Wilson and Fuel Theatre’s brand new collaboration Autobiographer is a stunningly simple and provocative piece of theatre. The play follows one main character, Flora, played by four different actresses which represent her at different points in her life. We are led to believe that at present, Flora is 76 and trying to recount her life story in a very cryptic way while dealing with dementia. Through Wilson’s beautifully poetic language, we are taken on a fragmented journey without having any idea of the destination, but that makes it all the more exciting.
Four talented actresses recount tales of days gone by. It was as if these women were searching for the missing pieces to the puzzle of life. The show began with the 33 year old Flora speaking in a very poetic manor that set the somber mood of the piece with the beautiful lightscape above our heads. At different points, the actresses would move across the stage in subtly choreographed montages. Each truly embodied this woman and from the very beginning we knew who she was without needing to be told.
While I thought the it was lovely and I was drawn in immediately, the whole piece could have used a bit more pace. It was clear they were moving to the speed of a 76 year old woman’s mind, but it would have been nice to be swept away into a flashback rather than just be told about the memory. I would have also liked to see a bit more physicality applied to the piece. The most captivating moments were the times when the actresses addressed the audience and spontaneous comedic moments occurred.
Staged in the round in a small black box studio at Toynbee Hall in Aldgate, it is evident that Wilson has a passion for soundscapes. This was a true highlight and integral piece to the puzzle. Autobiographer has definitely turned me on to the work of Wilson and Fuel and I will surely be attending their works in the future.