Recursion, Olsson Theatre
Reviewed by: Katie MacFadyen
Recursion is, in effect, a small-scale, personal psychological thriller: an amnesiac in a mental institution begins to write a play about a dysfunctional couple, bonds with one of his fellow patients, a young woman suffering from OCD, and through this becomes aware that his situation is not all that it seems.
The concept is solid: it’s a tightly plotted, gripping look at memory and insanity, with some intense performances and a string of revelations to be had. The final twist, however, is obvious fairly early on, and though it’s still enjoyable – even when it’s clear what’s coming, it’s interesting to see how it will play out – it loses its shock value.
The play-within-a-play at the centre of the action does not flow as well as it should, and though this may be justified by the mental state of its author, it is at times too slow-moving and subtle for the lead’s final decision to follow naturally from what comes before, removing the emotional impact it should have given the play as a whole.
However, though the middle portion of the play may drag, the climax is well-executed enough to retain some punch, and the final scene is chilling, its bleakness abated only slightly by a ray of hope implying that the protagonist’s struggles may not have been completely futile.