Review: Incognito by Nick Payne, at the Bush theatre (presented by nabokov)

Alison O'Donnell and Paul Hickey - photo Bill Knight

Alison O’Donnell and Paul Hickey – photo Bill Knight

Young british playwrights are on fire. Not only in the sense they are pretty damn good (even if Dominic Cavendish disagrees), but also because they can’t stop writing. In April, Mike Bartlett opened two new plays within a fortnight, and now Nick Payne’s Incognito performs at the Bush theatre, a couple of months after his Blurred Lines performed at the Shed and Symphony at the Vaults and before The Art of Dying at the Royal Court in July. People ask me why I go to the theatre so much. Try keeping up with these guys.

Skimming through the synopsis of the play, you will pick up words like neuroscience and Albert Einstein’s brain (in a jar no less). Associated images of laboratories and 19th century travelling shows spring to mind (this expression – “it springs to mind” – is pertinent. This is how the brain works, making connections and creating narratives). The reality of the production is far more intriguing.  Nick Payne returns to the themes of Constellations: the burning desire for meaning, human warmth and comfort, all held together by a decaying and fragile piece of human tissue. What happens when we lose a memory, a word, a feeling? Can they be so important if they are so easily lost?

As with Constellations, structure is key: Continue reading