Pros: An informative and well-rounded production that covers the science of dementia while also illustrating its effects on one woman.
Cons: The initial ten minutes were a little weak but things soon picked up. Seating for all would have been appreciated as ninety minutes can be a long time to stand.
The theatre programme for collective Bread and Goose states: ‘our work aims to be playful, thought-provoking and curious, and our approach is based on collaboration and a sense of adventure.’
On arrival at the Camden People’s Theatre I was informed that this was to be a ‘promenade piece’ and so audience members were requested to leave all bags and coats at the box office/bar. At the start time we were all called to gather together at the entrance door before being admitted en masse. We were each given a little LED light and some were given cards illustrating a constellation, then we were asked to gather into groups to form those constellations with our lights. I guess this was an icebreaker but it was quite brief and had rather tenuous links with what was to follow.
Some audience members were then asked to hold balloons representing various planets in relation to the sun. The woman holding the sun turned out to be performing the character of Edna whose journey we would be following. The audience settled around the edges of the room and it became a ‘theatre in the round’ performance – although still interactive.
Two actors held the stage – Nicky Goldie as Edna and Hywel Simons as Anthony – while Edna’s daughter was voiced by Jen Burraston and Hannah Pool. Mr Simons moved between playing a dementia expert to playing characters in Edna’s memories.
Both actors were thoroughly engaging. Edna’s struggle to hold on to her memories while sometimes realising they were slipping away from her was heart-wrenching to watch. Anthony provided the counter-balance with the scientific viewpoint, which I imagine kept a few of us from dissolving into tears at certain points.
The piece managed to successfully present the various aspects of dementia. We were given facts about the brain and how it works to form memories and in turn how these are lost. We were also presented with the individual human story of Edna and her experience of the gradual journey through this sad condition, and we all participated by providing personal experiences and memories to help with a physical demonstration.
It was a fascinating ninety minutes which provided a well-rounded view of dementia. Audience members consisted of all age groups and the experience touched me personally as it’s something that I’m experiencing with a close member of my own family right now.
The main downside for me was that once everyone had settled to the edges of the room there were only a few scattered chairs for use. Whilst some were happy to sit on the floor unfortunately there were no chairs near me and if I had sat on the floor I would have struggled to get up again. With a mixed age audience, and no moving about after the initial ten minutes or so I think it would have been preferable to have seats available for everyone.
Writer & Director: Kate Lovell
Producer: Joe Brown
Booking Until: This run has now ended