Six Billion Suns
Poignant experimental theatre about Alzheimer’s disease at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Directed by Eva Rysová in conjunction with the Czech Centre London and Theatre NoD, Six Billion Suns is a brave and experimental production exploring the terrifying reality of living with Alzheimer’s disease, from diagnosis to death and all the heartbreak in-between.
Loosely based on the character of Alzheimer's patient August and his wife, the boundary between audience, actor and character is repeatedly blurred; at various stages the cast each play the two characters and the performance is paused to allow them to directly engage the audience in naming games and memory tests, both in and out of character.
The effect of this remains unclear – perhaps it’s a deliberate attempt to disorientate the crowd in order that they feel the compounding confusion of an Alzheimer’s sufferer, but in reality it feels there is too much going on in the play threatening to drown the story. This is not helped by surtitles peppered with spelling mistakes and inconsistent grammar.
However, the cast act their parts supremely. Three days of preparation by living with people with Alzheimer's ensure some hauntingly poignant scenes – the embarrassment of trying and failing to name simple shapes and months of the year backwards, the inability to remember family members or spouses. More straight-forwardly affecting scenes of this nature would have prevented the play from coming dangerously close to falling into its own inaccessible black hole.
The Zoo, 662 6892, until 16 Aug, 2.30pm, £6–£8.