‘Mnemonic’ stands out as ethereal, abstract show

With several guest designers and a difficult plot, Baylor Theatre’s latest production, “Mnemonic,” stands out with its unique sound and set design, paired a with talented cast. The show will continue running through Sunday night. | File courtesy of Baylor Theatre

by Darby Good | Page One Editor

Baylor Theatre’s newest play, “Mnemonic,” tells a complex and well-woven story that connects audience members through the subject of memory. From the creative set, sound effects to the versatility in each actor’s performance, there is something for everyone in this play.

When entering the theater, guests are given a sleep mask and a leaf. Within minutes of the play’s beginning, playgoers put on their sleeping masks and are asked to imagine their surroundings using their memory while holding the leaf. Afterwards, an actor springs from the audience, calls his friend to tell him about the leaf, and then the rest of the play unfolds. Mnemonic focuses on two parallel storylines, and as a viewer, the actors have you immediately invested.

The set design by guest artist Michael Mehler was a work of industrial beauty with exposed brick, a second level of projection screens and slabs of rock along the floor. This allowed each scene to transition well and tell each of the different stories in what felt like a huge variety of unique settings. The play took risks with innovative props like using a chair that broke in the first half of the play as a puppet of a man in one of the final scenes. Though it sounds weird, the movements were very impactful.

Sound design played a large role in the play. Created by guest artist Andrew Davis, voiceovers were used to represent thoughts and memories throughout the play and allowed for the actors to run more efficiently to their next spot. At some points, the character Virgil is imagining his girlfriend Alice’s journey to find her father. As he imagines the different things that could be happening on Alice’s trip, creative sound design was used to clearly delineate transitions between different outcomes he was imagining. For example, the play cleverly used a bell-like sound to denote that the same instance was being re-imagined into another possibility.

The costume design by guest artist Hannah Prochaska was beautifully simple and airy. Each actor in the ensemble had a different variation of the minimalistic designs that allowed the actors to easily transition into different characters throughout the play, while maintaining a cohesive and visually pleasing aesthetic.

The challenges posed by the incorporation of three guest designers, multiple accents and languages written into the play required the actors to be on their A game. While there were some German accents that missed the mark, Memphis, Tenn., sophomore Christina Calcote delivered when it came to acting as a French maid, attempting to have a conversation, in French, with a confused Alice. Across the board, each actor brought an impressive performance when it came to giving speeches in foreign languages. San Antonio, senior Lily Myatt and Austin, senior Brody Volpe stole the show as Alice and Virgil, each bringing a different set of emotions to the table with their performances. When the two finally came together at the end of the play, you could hear the audience lose their breath. Funniest line goes to Keller, senior Payton Heidenreiter for her lines during the telephone sequence. Audience members could still be heard laughing about it while leaving the play.

Overall, Baylor Theatre’s production of “Mnemonic” is great for those wanting to see something outside the box and forward-thinking. As a warning however, there is a bit of explicit language and content for those considering bringing children to the show.

The production will be held every night at 7:30 p.m. through Sunday, with matinée performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.