A Motorhead concert, a skip rope incident, and a dinner gone terribly wrong? These random stories make up Confabulation! an entertaining solo show about the phenomena of creating false memories. Using the autobiographical experience of writer and performer Eamonn Fleming, Confabulation! takes a storytelling approach to answer the mysteries surrounding memory science and how our memories affect our self- perceptions.
Fleming’s entertaining personality shines from start to finish. Minutes after entering the basement showroom, the audience is thrown into a memory from Fleming’s youth—a Motorhead concert. It’s Fleming’s actions and amusing personality in combination with the background music that create a visual and the feeling of being at the concert with him. Props are minimal in this show, further highlighting Fleming’s ability to set a scene. However, this scene comes with a surprise—the realisation that Fleming didn’t actually go to a Motorhead concert in his youth despite his belief that he had.
From this point, the show begins interspersing the science of memory with (real) humorous scenes from Fleming’s past. It is a very illustrative technique and one that relies heavily on storytelling. These tales are thoroughly entertaining and Fleming’s characterisation of various individuals from his past is particularly strong.
Confabulation! is a successful example of a non-scientist using scientific knowledge obtained from experts to discuss and entertain a general public crowd. It is clear that he is well researched on the topic he is conveying, despite Fleming admitting early on to not being a scientist. The combination of the stories and Fleming’s humourous illustrations and analogies of the concepts of narratives, facts, and other scientific terms add a human element to teaching science that can often be lost in traditional science teaching.
However, the highlight of the show comes at the end, when the various stories and memory science terms come together to remind the audience of the power we have over our self-perceptions. The human element is again apparent, as Fleming spends the second half of the show wondering the chronology of two distinct events of his past, as the order will influence his ability to access his motive of one of the events. The conclusion here is that though our memories influence our perceptions of ourselves, we have ability to choose how we remember them.
Perhaps the most ironic part of reviewing Confabulation! is the fact that to write the review, I had to rely on my memory of the show. Nevertheless, the show is a fantastic mixture of humour, storytelling, and science to entertain the audience with stories, educate people on how memory works, and explore the relationship between memories and self-perception.
Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath (Venue 33)
Until 28th August
Photo Credit: © Edinburgh Fringe Festival Society