Plunder by Jennifer Barclay

In Plunder, a hostage, an amnesiac, and a zealous psychologist become entangled in a fight for the right to own the identity they need and the memories they want.

After a treacherous fall in Yosemite, Gwen wakes up with severe autobiographical amnesia. Her psychologist, Robey, is thrilled: she is a blank slate. He encourages her to take advantage of this opportunity to start from scratch and forever shed her “baggage”through the use of confabulation. With confabulation therapy, Robey argues, you can rewrite anything undesirable in your past by simply repeating more favorable memories over and over until, in your reprogrammed mind, they become fact.

Inspired by Gwen’s fresh start and desperate to salvage his failing marriage, Robey takes his experiments home to his wife, Ari. Together, they attempt to confabulate a collection of pure, loving “memories,” upon which they can build a stronger and happier future.

But Gwen is impatient. Desperate to set claim to some memories of her own, she kidnaps Ari and interrogates her about her experiences of all the traditional rites of passage. Ari tells her stories (by knife point), and Gwen adopts them as her own. This atmosphere of threats, torture, and isolation foster in Ari a growing sense of attachment and affection for her captor; she develops Stockholm Syndrome. And so, in the midst of this unhealthy hostility, the two women end up developing an exquisite friendship.

Plunder rips into the dirty baggage that follows each of us into relationships, and weighs the pure beauty of a white lie against the stark reality of the truth.

Plunder has received staged readings in Chicago at Piven Theatre (four readings, including the 2006 Annual Festival of New Works), and American Theatre Company (directed by Marty Higginbotham), as well as one in San Diego at UCSD.