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Memory Point(s)

Lighthouse, Poole


Nick Churchill on a backstage tour that goes over-under-sideways-down, round and back again:



It’s Lighthouse as you’ve never seen it before. In fact, Memory Point(s) is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Well it is, but not like this.

Like a trip down someone else’s Memory Lane, this is a show with a difference, a multi-sensory art installation with a twist, an exhibition of the familiar in thoroughly unfamiliar settings. At once exciting, intriguing, funny and sad, it’s a bittersweet shuffle round the dancefloor at the end of the season, thoughtful, uplifting and somehow life-affirming. Dare yourself to take the plunge.

It all starts with a kiosk and a ticket to promenade along the weirdest pier you could imagine. An affable guide in dickie bow and tails takes us into the nether regions of Lighthouse revealing backlit messages – one proclaiming memories are in colour, another that weddings are in black and white – then into beautifully lit, but even tighter spots past a solo violinist in the Theatre to a looped animation and all the while lights are set to different levels, smells (including a powerful waft of lilies) tantalise the tourists and music fills your head.

By the time we are gifted blooms and seaside rock there’s a small but growing sense of excitement, of building towards an event that is heightened by nervous tension when we’re shown into a dressing room and instructed to pick an outfit. (Mine’s a bright pink Teddy Boy drape jacket, since you ask.)

The trip – and I use the word advisedly – was starting to feel like a holiday in a warped but thoroughly contemporary notion of vintage, a riotous, shabby chic confusion of the Naughty Nineties, the Roaring Twenties and the early Swinging Sixties.

But then, deep beneath the stage we found a miniature paper house, delicately lit and inexplicably enthralling. Next door was a young woman playing the piano to soundtrack a cleverly edited reel of footage that didn’t so much tug at the heartstrings as pluck them out of tune. Against a monochrome backdrop of sand, faces are frozen in time in posed, almost formal black and white portraits and wild, saturated colour snaps come in and out of focus. Every family has a shoebox/tin/hat case/folder full of images like these, their frames inhabited by people so much younger than they are today... if indeed they’re with us at all.

I smile, but it’s tinged with something else, a melancholy that stops short of sadness, a minor chord suspended for all faces I’ve seen in photos like those.

And then we’re whisked off towards the stage, not to perform, but to watch, drink, listen and reflect. There’s a palm court groove that might involve a little dancing, there’s certainly some schmoozing, and a performer in the orchestra pit whose initial exertions border on the sinister before giving way to hopefulness and, ultimately, a heart fished up from the flotsam.

Memory Point(s) embarks daily at Lighthouse until Wednesday 11 September.


http://www.platform4.org/memorypoint.htm

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