All the Lights Are On (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

All the Lights Are On

An honest yet predictable reflection on memory loss

With a loving husband and a close family, Emmy is only in her early 30s when she's diagnosed with brain cancer. Young Finnish playwright and actor Kaisa Lundán's sad but unsentimental four-hander follows the woman's inevitable decline, her slow loss of memory and ability, and the fallout on those close to her.

There's little startling or surprising about ACE-Production's eloquent, poignant show, part of the Fringe's From Start to Finnish showcase. But it's an honest, strongly delivered reflection on the impact of life-changing disease on a loving family, with hopes raised then dashed, and impossible decisions that have to be made.

Ashley Smith is quietly magnetic in the central role, fragile in her sickness but shot through with steely determination even as her condition worsens. Ali Watt is stoic as her husband Petri, his attempts to offer support as Emmy slips away not always welcome, and Wendy Elizabeth Murray and Mark McDonnell are equally strong as Emmy's mother and godfather. Director Julian Garner creates a quiet, fluid production whose restraint only strengthens its emotional power.

All the Lights Are On might not tell us much that's new or unexpected about illness, love or family, but it's a touching, tender hour of memorable theatre all the same.

Summerhall, until 26 Aug (not 8, 13, 20), 11.40am, £10 (£8).

All the Lights Are On

  • 3 stars

ACE-Production in association with From Start to Finnish Typical Emmy, to turn brain cancer into a game! Her husband attempts to care for her, even as the illness eats away the woman he knows and loves, and her mother holds faith with internet voodoo and blueberry juice. But Emmy knows optimism is a false god and cancer…