In Autoreverse, Florencia Cordeu shares with the audience her childhood memoirs that have been crystallised in audio recordings. Florencia´s family resisted the dictatorship in Argentina by recording and sharing their day-to-day life on cassette tapes. Along with director Omar Elerian, they both expose these personal stories in a very emotional and enjoyable performance that make us endear to Florencia´s intimate feelings and memories.
The play is mainly about memory and time. It delves into the human necessity of materializing their beloved moments through image or sound so they can forever be remembered. Without such material evidence, Florencia wouldn´t have a vivid memory of so many specific events when she was a kid, but with the cassettes, she is helped to rebuild her childhood.
The performance goes back and forward through time, resembling the act of forwarding and rewinding a tape. Different periods are addressed: from the end of 1970´s, into the 80´s, along with the year when the tapes were listened to, through to the present day of the show. We live the whole experience through the embodiment of two versions of Florencia; the actress from the present and the recorded voice version who is narrating the story. In many ways the second Florencia is the past. It’s amusing when the recorded Florencia challenges Florencia the actress, as if she is split into two personalities. But this also shows a natural human act to continuously imagine ourselves in the future.
The two Florencia’s break the fourth wall with the audience, talking straight to us. They even ask us to participate onstage. A timely act, given the fact that this show plays as part of BAC’s Relax Performances (https://www.bac.org.uk/content/45699/about/relaxed_venue).
The staging is an ingenious sound installation set out in what appears to be a living room, its atmosphere provided by the warm lighting. The tape cassettes are kept as if they are laboratory elements, meticulously examined by Florencia. She plays them in old fashioned cassette recorders arranged on tables around the room, the aged technology a nod to the time they were made. It’s fascinating to see how each technology has its own aesthetic, either for its physical features or how it sounds when reproducing the audio.
Although the show contains numerous Argentinian references it does not push us to any specific context. Instead it feels as if it would be moving for anyone who has lost a relative or missing home or struggling to call a new place home. It is also heartbreaking to see how people fight to live normal lives in the middle of conflict and violence. The beautiful building of Battersea Arts Centre enhances the nostalgic experience.
Written by: Florencia Cordeu and Omar Elerian
Directed by: Omar Elerian
Produced by: Sammy Fiorino
Booking link: https://www.bac.org.uk/content/45651/whats_on/whats_on/shows/autoreverse
Booking until: 22 February 2020