POST: 'Incognito' - a man with short term memory loss

What's it about?

Incognito tells a variety of stories all dealing with the brain or mental illness with 21 characters portrayed 4 actors.

What'd I experience?

As soon as I saw the description of the show I was intrigued. Not only am I really interested in the brain and all the things that can go wrong with it, but the show had 21 characters played by only 4 actors (2 men and 2 women). I'm always into it when a show involves actors playing multiple parts, I find it so cool how convincingly they are able to portray different people to the point where I forget it's the same person playing them. Add on the fact that one of them was Charlie Cox (I'm a huge fan of the Netflix Daredevil series, so I geeked out a bit over this) and another was the mother from Hand to God, which was one of my favorite shows that I've seen - so it's understandable why I'd be so excited.

When I first sat down the set really caught my attention, or rather the lack of one (my seat was dead center only about 3 rows in, which I think was the best seat in the house). It was just this medium sized circular stage, 4 black wooden chairs, and a simple sleek background with the word INCOGNITO. It was weirdly comforting, but at the same time gave off a weird futuristic/modern feel. Plus there was this very low droning noise in the background, or at least I think there was. I could have just been imagining it because it would have went really well with the set.

Before long the lights dimmed and a spotlight lit the aisle to my right, and the actors came in from behind/through the audience. And I get very excited at the sight of them, especially because one of the actresses was really pretty.

The play opened with the actors on stage facing each other from each corner of a square within the circle, and the lights turned blue and the words ENCODING appeared on the back wall as the actors did a encoding dance. I don't know how else to describe it besides that, an encoding dance. Luckily my limited background knowledge of psychology let me know what this meant, and I caught on to the fact that the three acts of the play were based on the three stages of memory: ENCODING, STORING, and RETRIEVAL. This seemed pretty fitting, because one of the main stories of the show followed Henry, a man with severe short term memory loss.

All of the stories weren't so bleak, at least not on the surface. One of the stories was about a man who stole Einstein's brain while performing his autopsy, which was morbidly hilarious. This led him to devoting his life to researching his brain and trying to uncover the secret to why Einstein was so smart. this led to him cheating on his wife and losing his family, and then eventually led to him realizing his life's work was pointless and that the man he idolized was actually a neglectful father and husband who's family hated him. This also led to him jumping off a bridge and killing himself. Ok so maybe it wasn't the happiest story, but there was the other storyline that followed a nice lesbian couple as they slowly fell in love with each other. I mean yeah one of them was discovered to be a pathological liar and continuously lied to the other. Then it was also discovered that she had a severe drinking problem and was drunk almost all of the time. Then of course they broke up afterwards. Boy was this a depressing show, but the truly sad story was the one about Henry that I mentioned before.

Let me justify why I cried like a little girl at this story.

When you first meet Henry it opens with him saying "Hello my darling, where have you been?" to his wife, and she replies "I've been right here darling, don't worry." Then a man approaches them and asks Henry to play the piano, to which he agrees. When he sits down though, he says that he doesn't think he knows how to play, so his wife sits next to him and tries to get him started, and as he tries to copy what she did, he stops. Then all of a sudden he turns to her, smiles, and says "Hello my darling, where have you been?" to which she starts crying and says "I've been right here don't worry." Automatically I realized "oh shit, he has short term memory loss", and I knew it was only going to get more and more sad from here on out.

From then on when they would switch back to Henry's story there were mixed emotions. In one instance he plays the piano tune back and then some to which his wife and the man (who is his doctor) are ecstatic, but the next time they return he is doing even worse and the wife is in tears the entire time. Following that, they show you the origin of the condition, which is right after he proposed to her (well she proposed to him, but that was only because he was dreadfully scared of her father) and had a severe seizure. This part really hit me, because as a past epileptic I know how scary a situation like that could be, and Charlie Cox portrayed the whole situation really well.

The following few sections were just a whirlwind of sadness, with his wife trying to explain to him that she won't be coming to see him anymore, but he isn't able to remember what she's saying so she's just crying her eyes out and I'm tearing up. Then after a few scenes of him alone getting older in the mental hospital still asking where his wife is and even threatening to kill himself, a woman comes to visit him. It's revealed that she is actually his granddaughter and that Henry's wife died giving birth to her mother. That broke my heart on it's own, but then the doctor said "I've tried to tell him to forget about his wife and that she's not coming, but because of his condition, he can't remember to forget her," and that line just killed me.

But the part that finally brought me to tears was the end, when the woman says "oh, I've been told that you're quite the piano player" and Henry says "I might be a bit rusty, it's been a while." So he sits down, pauses for a minute, the spotlight goes on him, and the show closes as the light slowly fades and he plays the entirety of the piano piece that his wife was trying to teach him all those years ago. I just couldn't help it at that point. It was just like, oh my god, how could write something this depressing. It was the most beautifully depressing thing I had ever witnessed, and I didn't care at that point who in the theater saw me. 


Want to see it?

:( Sorry - this show is not currently showing