Plays about memory work well when they are immersive and experiential – pulling you into the story, and evoking strong emotions. When crafted with additional finesse, they can even offer profound insight, leaving lasting impact. With Michael Batten’s Remembrance Monday, I was hoping for that something extra. It is a beautifully executed production, with committed performances and sleek design, but it falls short of its potential. It contributes very little to the conversation to be a meaningful LGBTQ play and does not fully succeed as a compelling psychological thriller.


Staged intimately in a reflective bathroom, with audience on four sides, we are immediately thrust into the mind of Julius (Nick Hayes), an ex-dancer who replays a fateful Monday evening when his husband, Connor (Matthew Stathers), goes out to meet a friend, also a regular hook-up. We witness flashbacks to various points in their relationship, and as the play progresses, it becomes evident that Julius is experiencing a mental decline due to events from that unfortunate night.


Although the focus is on Julius’ internal journey, queerness remains the central theme. The couple’s backstories emphasise their struggles as gay men: bullying in their youth, contending with their campness, body image issues, and jealousy from their open relationship. While using familiar gay tropes is not inherently problematic, the lack of nuance or intrigue renders the characters somewhat flat and the overall narrative feeling undeveloped.


There are tender moments and some decent jokes for added texture, but it is the compelling performances by Hayes and Stathers that make the production work. They showcase immense chemistry, even when handling hackneyed dialogue. Hayes brings rawness and sincerity to the role, seamlessly shifting between bright-eyed in the flashbacks, and frenetic and sceptical as he descends into manic psychosis. As the more grounded Connor, Stather skillfully embodies the various versions of Julius’ subverted perceptions of him.


Indeed, the play works best when viewed like performance art. The set resembles an installation with its reflective surfaces, atmospheric lighting and piercing soundscape. Certain moments feel like you are observing a Punchdrunk production, particularly during Hayes’ movement sequences, in which he expresses his inner turmoil (choreographed by Dianté Lodge). Although the piece does not quite achieve suspense – the reveals are fairly predictable – the constant intensity and hypnotic visuals maintain our engagement with Julius until the end.


Ultimately, it is a powerful show, moving briskly through its 75 minutes, prompting contemplation of your own sense of reality and memories. However, for a piece that employs queer themes and a psychological journey, it is a missed opportunity. Had these elements come together more thoughtfully, with more focus and clearer intentions, Remembrance Monday could go beyond being a quick romp through a common tragic gay narrative to offering a truly lingering and enlightening experience.