Our memories are stored in objects—snapshots, heirlooms, souvenirs—and they have an uncanny power both to summon the past and to embody its irrevocable loss. As the Trojan Aeneas puts it in Virgil’s epic poem, “There are tears in things.”
This poignant fact underlies Kaitlin Byrd’s collage of sounds and vignettes based on the memories and audio recordings of a group of 13 credited writers. What little story the show has involves a nameless documentarian (Ken Miller) holed up in a room somewhere that’s filled with recording devices he’s used to capture and catalog all of the world’s sounds—rain, sirens, kids playing, the waves on Lake Michigan. Eventually we discover what’s driving him: The woman in his life (Kate Nawrocki) has recently died, and his miles of tape are a way not just of safeguarding her memory but of retrieving lost time.
Scenes outlining this hopeless, heartbreaking archival project are interspersed with sketches and monologues in which six actors perform moments from the scriptwriters’ lives, all spliced together by Byrd and augmented by Brian Michael Lucas’s atmospheric sound design. Here, again, everyday objects such as scissors, a tackle box and a winter coat take on talismanic powers, and here, too, we’re reminded that every moment passes through us like sand through a sieve. Codirectors Paul Kastner and Kim Miller haven’t given much thought to the script’s visual possibilities, beyond a half-hearted promenade staging through three rooms of the Berger Park Cultural Center in Edgewater. Aurally, though, the show is haunting, touching and true.