Edward J. Neverwhere is not real. But his story is. Exploring the power of memory, The Inevitable Disappearance of Edward J. Neverwhere immerses audiences in a world of pure imagination. But in a show that relies on telling not showing, audiences may need to use their imagination to make sense of a somewhat convoluted narrative.
Created by his childhood friend, he may be imagined but everything he feels is not. That childhood is now long-gone and a lonely Edward takes refuge in a house full of memories. But as these start to turn to dust, will he too?
Infinity Theatre couldn’t find a better home for this show than the abandoned safe-houses at Basic Space. The house is dilapidated, left to decay, forgotten; so too is Edward. Books cover the floors and papers hang from ceilings, each one telling a story. The audience sits on the floor cross legged, reminiscent of story time in school. These details in the physical space help to bring us back to a particular mental space: that of imagination.
William Sebag-Montefiore brings the imaginary Edward to life. This is a man who has lost everything and is losing himself, and Sebag-Montefiore’s emotional honesty is almost too true, too hard to watch. Though his movements are controlled, raw and unbridled passion flows through him. Talking directly to the audience, he connects with everyone in the room.
While the appearance and acting are commendable, the actual narrative is over-complicated. As he desperately traces and retraces memories, Edward serves as somewhat of an unreliable narrator. We revisit memories at numerous points, bringing new life to them. These narrative jumps are somewhat predictable but still easy to follow. Where we lose the narrative is where Edward seems to too: when he meets the love of his life. At this point, we have to use our imagination to make sense of what is real, and who or what is not. How can she see him? How can other people see him? And talk to him?
Sometimes it is good to leave a show with more questions than answers. In the case of The Inevitable Disappearance of Edward J. Neverwhere, inevitably I left with such questions but indefinite answers. But at least it makes audiences use their imagination…