Review: By Heart

“Once 10 people know a poem by heart, there’s nothing the KGB, the CIA or the Gestapo can do about it. It will survive.”— George Steiner

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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By Heart
Photo by Magda Biazarro
Published 07 Mar 2019

Portuguese playwright and actor Tiago Rodrigues is bringing his grandmother’s story to the stage. To do this, he will summon the words and ideas of literary greats and call upon invisible tales of resistance from the back pages of history. But he cannot do this alone.


Ten volunteers from the audience join him to share in the experience of learning a poem by heart. None of these people know what that poem will be before they enter the theatre. Inspired by his grandmother’s quest to learn a book by heart before she lost her eyesight forever, this show is a tender exploration of transference and restores our faith in the possibilities of the written word.


We discover which book Rodrigues chooses for his grandmother to memorise and the play will not end until all ten audience members can recite their poem by heart.


From Shakespeare to Ray Bradbury, this refreshing take on modern day theatre is an ode to the power of memory. And to the notion that even if freedom, books and your body are stripped away, nothing and nobody can take from you the words stowed within your heart.