Written by Ruth Pieloor
Directed by Ali Clinch
Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre production
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan to 20 August
Reviewed by Len Power 18 August 2022
Inspired by her own experience of dealing with her mother’s dementia, playwright Ruth Pieloor has used the magical resources of theatre to create a work of wistful intensity that is both enlightening and entertaining.
On a spare and very wide setting by Mel Davies, the drama of a woman’s journey with dementia plays out in a jigsaw puzzle of brief scenes that move back and forth in time from the early signs of the condition to the inevitable end. Along the way, the impact on family members is unflinchingly described, as is the inner world and reality of the sufferer herself.
Dementia carers know that the sufferer’s delusional reaction to the world around them can often be quite amusing and remembered with affection long after the sufferer has departed. This production shows these moments of uneasy comedy very well.
Heidi Silberman plays Rachel, Maggie’s daughter and main carer. She also plays Maggie at earlier stages of her life. Silberman is especially impressive in the highly emotional scene involving the packing of her mother’s belongings to take her to the care home.
The complex lighting design by Jacob Aquilina adds considerable atmosphere, as does the sound design by Damien Ashcroft. Fiona Leach’s costumes are colourfully apt for the clowning sequences and well-chosen for the reality parts of the play.
For everyone whose lives have been affected by the wide-reaching problems dementia causes, this play and its production will resonate strongly. For everyone else, who will likely be touched by dementia in some way in the future, it will give an insight and understanding into living with or caring for someone with this cruel condition.
Photos by Ben Appleton, Photox-Canberra Photography Services.