Pros: A convincing performance provokes the audience’s deepest emotions.
Cons: Bring tissues.
Returning to the Fringe for his 25th year, Pip Utton invites us to join him at the funeral of his beloved wife Christine. After welcoming most of us personally, he begins with a fond eulogy which immediately fills many eyes with tears.
Affectionate memories of being school sweethearts are followed by the unplanned birth of their only son John, before the young couple move on to establish a career in education. Fast forward many years, we learn of Christine’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, beginning a relentless and painful journey towards dementia. The initial bouts of confusion are gradually replaced by aggressive outbursts, heavy swearing and physiological incontinence, whilst her loving husband increasingly struggles to look after her. His grief in recalling these episodes is so genuine that we’d be forgiven for thinking this was all true – and in some respects, it is, as Utton’s play draws on his mother’s experience of being diagnosed with the disease and passing away in just over three years.
As the story unfolds, we witness his ability to express a physical transformation as the degenerative condition advances. This is top-drawer stagecraft, which leaves a lasting impression long after the performance is finished.
With the lights in the auditorium kept on throughout the performance, Utton scans the crowd in search for eye contact, making an even stronger impact. He is renowned for being able to establish an emotional connection with his spectators and, looking around the room, I find many of us clutching a tissue.
Exploring the implications of a terminal brain disorder that is currently the leading cause of death in England and Wales, this is an affecting work which provokes many tears on both sides of the fourth wall. An outstanding performance.
Written, Directed and Performed by: Pip Utton
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run