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Review: In Other Words, at Hope Theatre

The power of music provides a brief respite from the tragedy of Alzheimer’s

09 March, 2017 — By Elizabeth Sulis Gear

Celeste Dodwell and Matthew Seager in In Other Words. Photo: Alex Fine

“IT feels like he’s leaving me,” cries Jane, played by Celeste Dodwell, in conversation with the counsellor we cannot see. The horror of dementia lies not necessarily in the finis of life, but in the gradual loss of recognition from and of somebody close to us.

Matthew Seager’s In Other Words – which was developed during a residency with Lyric Hammersmith and directed by Paul Brotherston – tells the story of Jane’s struggles as her husband Arthur –played by Seager – loses his identity along with his memories of her.

Though not groundbreaking, the play realistically conveys the private tragedy of slowly losing yourself or someone you love to Alzheimer’s, while reflecting on the power of music in memory recollection. It is Sinatra’s voice that brings them back together, albeit for a limited time.

The ticking clock and interludes of silence remind us that time is passing.

The play is performed by just two actors in a minimalist set. Dodwell convincingly portrays Jane, both determined to persist and ignore the gravity of the situation and simultaneously overwhelmed with grief, and a desire for her husband to return to her.

Gliding between snippets of memories infused with music and passion and recounting episodes of the past with hindsight, the protagonists also double up as our narrators – as a consequence, at times the piece feels too didactic, which steals from its otherwise powerful story.

“If I don’t laugh, I don’t know what I’ll do,” says Jane. The tragedy is injected with little moments of sentimentality and humour – sometimes when everything in the world seems dark/bleak, there is no better remedy.

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