There’s an ethical problem posed at the start of Matt Ball’s one man show, Roy’s Wallet. Although the show looks at his grandfather’s life and memory. At 89, Roy’s memories are beginning to fade and he doesn’t know his grandson is doing this show. Ball plants the question in the audience’s mind asking is it right for them to hear memories that Roy himself can no longer remember?
What actually is memory and can we trust it? As we get older our memories shift and sometimes vanish but they do form an integral part of our make up.
As we learn more about Roy’s life we also begin to learn more about Matt and more generally how we deal with old age, and eventually death. Even after death the memories still linger, Roy’s deceased wife’s chair remains un-sat in as she left it.
Roy’s Wallet at Pulse Fringe Festival
Although there’s potential for morbidity here, the show is surprisingly celebratory. The audience are offered tots of rum during a break in the show in memory of Roy’s Naval past and there’s a communal sing along of Roy’s favourite song at the end.
Ball informs us at the start that he’s not a performer and that he won’t be drawing on deep emotional connections to tell his story but perhaps that is a bluff. Although told with honesty, there is obviously a deep emotional connection here and a structure that has been carefully considered and constructed. Although he may claim not to be a performer, there is warmth around Ball’s delivery that engages and makes you want to know more.
The structure isn’t entirely perfect; some sections seem under-developed and with an overt theatricality at odds with the direct nature of the whole. While there is a sense of communal involvement with a direct address to the audience throughout, and the collection of first memories, it’s unclear how this sharing will develop.
If Ball can tighten up the structure and reign back some of the distracting theatricality, Roy’s Wallet has the potential to offer a real insight not only into memory but also the impact it has on our everyday lives.