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Remember to Smile, Burdall’s Yard, 25th May

Remember to Smile is a piece of physical theatre, showing a state where joy is mandated and smiling obligatory. The direction and performances make happiness a brittle, hollow exterior. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot beneath that exterior.

Stage and props were used in clever ways, though other aspects of the show were a little gimmicky. The attention to garishly joyful imagery was great, giving everything a consistent personality and tone.

The performers were capable across the board, showing a manic devotion to their happy roles with a double-shot of desperation. Their sustained grins and peppy attitude became uncomfortable to watch in the best way.  The dancing was at its most impressive when split into couples displays, Natasha Edwards with CJ Ashen, and Andreia Fraga with João Oliveira, all of them showing talent worthy of the spotlight.

Having said that, it isn’t clear what Remember to Smile is actually trying to say: a gesture or two towards current affairs and homophobia are somewhat lost in the abstraction. In its themes and narrative, the show lacked both nuance and clarity, with its 1984 connection proving ultimately superfluous. Remember to Smile may have fared better as a straight-forward dance or play, not quite succeeding at doing both.

Nonetheless, Remember to Smile was enjoyable to watch due to the energy and effort expended on it; quite fittingly, it provoked more in the way of smiles than any serious reflection.

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Joshua Lambert