Is Analogue’s name a riff on how their productions are anything but? In past years, the acclaimed young company have shrouded difficult topics in digital wizardry, with puppetry and murder in Mile End, and 3D suicide at Beachy Head. Yet, in 2401 Objects, on the topic of the human brain, their vivid innovations serve to rather over complicate the mix.
When a botched lobotomy left the real life Henry Molaison unable to form memories after 1953, scientists were fascinated by the implications of exploring his brain after his death. But what these implications actually are is kept vexingly vague, much like the food-mulch and fork projected as a backdrop while the surgery is described.
Instead, the play focuses on the human cost of neuropsychology. And while Analogue’s set-piece sorcery might do no favours for scientific clarification, it ingeniously imitates the butchered memory of Molaison. Scenes collide, characters overlap and switch roles, and the backdrop slides back and forward, sweeping up props and actors just like pins cleared away and replaced at a bowling alley.
Molaison’s unpleasant life is given the foreground, played as a convincingly gawky youth by Sebastian Lawson and then with tender post-surgery stiltedness by Pieter Lawman. Marooned forever between his parents' teatime bickering and his inability to woo the peachy girl across the picket fence, Molaison never comprehends his own disorder or its scientific gravitas. Poignantly compelling, the final note of 2401 Objects is still a disorienting and dispiriting one.