By Heart is either a one-man or an eleven person play depending on how you look at it. At the start of this thought-provoking and heartfelt performance, the charismatic Tiago Rodrigues asks for ten volunteers from the audience to fill the ten empty chairs on stage. Each night the volunteers have to learn and recite William Shakespeare’s Sonnet no thirty by the end of the play. Between all this learning of the sonnet, the brilliant Tiago tells us fascinating stories involving his grandmother Candida, George Pasternak, Ray Bradbury and many others.
The heart of this story is based loosely on the narrative from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 where due to a totalitarian ban on books a group of people learn them by heart. I found Tiago to be an animated and magnetic performer. Depending on how quickly the sonnet is learnt this play can go from 75 to 120 minutes each night. Tonight it went for nearly the full 120 minutes and at no time was I ever looking at my watch. The payoff at the end was beautiful.
I saw some nervous reactions from the 10 volunteers on stage as they tried to learn the sonnet. As one of them left the stage and went back to his friends he stated: “How was the play” which indicated he did not take it all in as he was fully involved as a performer. I have to say this play really spoke to me as I found the discussion about books and remembering stories of your family very relevant to me at the moment. I really need to get Mum to teach me her gnocchi recipe soon.
Adelaide Festival Review By Richard De Pizzol
For tickets, show dates and times for By Heart head to the Adelaide Festival website.