FRINGE THEATRE, The Archive of Educated Hearts, Holden Street Theatres, 5K

Alexander Ewers

What is an educated heart? Have you an educated heart? Why is the educated heart so frustratingly inarticulate? How then do you tell a story about things that cannot be condensed into words?

Archive of Educated Hearts is one such story. It is an intensely personal and arresting account of four women forced to confront the certainties and uncertainties of cancer. It is a story about re-evaluating the real in the realities we create for ourselves, finding some to be shallow and meaningless, and discovering other neglected side-alleys of reality to be all-important. It is a story in which Casey Jay Andrews is both a participant and an observer, a purveyor of the objective and the subjective. And yet in her hands, it is so much more than a story. It is a vehicle, a means, by which to illuminate the visceral questions raised by the sorts of life events that represent a “line in the sand”. How does the heart survive such moments that reshape all that came before and will shape all that comes after? And what of the present that is left as a gaping chasm bridging the between?

Time fades into irrelevance as one steps into the Manse at Holden Street Theatres. The setting is intimate. 15 seats in a gently-lit sitting room, surrounded by the familiar and comfortable farrago of personal mementos and belongings. But this is not merely a convenient venue. The impression is of stepping into the innermost sanctum of another’s life. It is like Casey has projected her memories and mind to the dimensions of the room, and we are embraced inside this sphere. And that sense of unclothing of self continues. Casey remains in close and gaze-holding proximity, both guide and participant in the unfolding of her mind, a physically present tethering point for the agonies of the educated heart. She becomes the coherent link between a number of audio-visual media that feature throughout the performance: photographic images and voice recordings speaking to the theme of a heart not just alive, but wrenched into the necessity of truly living.

Herein lies the archive of an educated heart. It is moving; it is frank; an honest discussion about living. And yet the inarticulacy of life is raw – one can sense anger, passion, grief, joy, intensity, creativity, vitality, all swirling and heaving beneath and between the lines of the script. But the goal is far from simply eliciting emotions, or rousing action, or raging against the futility of attempted action. Casey remains composed and measured, setting a tone that is both reassuring and regenerative.

Perhaps this elegant piece of theatre is best condensed into the orated quote by Gelett Burgess. “Everything can be done beautifully by the educated heart.” One leaves feeling indeed touched by beauty, and having been gifted a question: “Have you an educated heart?”

Showing 6 days a week until the close of the Fringe Festival. A must-see.

Kryztoff Rating 5K

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