Unpolished but moving Alzheimer’s drama
This article is from 2009.
Susan is losing it. There are four sprites dressed in punk exercise wear behind the sofa, and every five minutes or so (dramatic time) they emerge to remind her, in wicked, hissing voices and with malevolent experimental dance moves, that her memory and her sanity are on the way out. As the play progresses and Alzheimer’s tightens its grip, her family too begin to encounter the sprites, whose voices are now those of psychiatrists and health-workers.
This is disease drama at its most basic. It’s an unsophisticated tear-jerker of a script, unhampered by nuance or deviation. There’s also much to be skeptical about in the production, which it would be misleading to describe as anything much above school-play level.
But, and here’s the thing, 40 minutes in and the tears were streaming down my face. The play worked. Where a slick professional production would only have brought out the crudeness of the script, you really believed that these tender, supportive daughters were there because they cared. There’s emotional investment in this show, and you come out sincerely hoping that if you ever have to face the pixies it’ll be with one of this bunch by your side.
The Spaces @ Royal College of Surgeons, 0845 508 8515, until 20 Aug (not 16), 1pm, £5.50 (£4).