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Review: Cockamamy, at the Hope Theatre

Captivating study of intergenerational relationships follows woman’s heart-wrenching spiral into dementia

21 June, 2018 — By Billie Manning

Mary Rutherford and Louise Coulthard in Cockamamy. Photo: Alex Brenner

LOUISE Coulthard’s Cockamamy begins as vivacious grandmother Alice (Mary Rutherford) and adult granddaughter Rosie (Coulthard) come in from a night on the town.

Alice is tempting Rosie into a nightcap, and it’s a sweet and funny scene that draws us immediately into their world. As the pair bicker about Rosie’s love life, it is clear that Coulthard’s play works simply as a study of intergenerational relationships.

However, as the play progresses, Coulthard’s sensitive, heart-wrenching writing also takes us on a journey through the experience of dementia.

Elle Loudon has perfectly constructed the naff yet comforting kitsch of a grandmother’s living room, and the set sits snug in the cosy space of the Hope. The use of lighting and sound to portray the oppressive confusion of Alice’s spiral into dementia give a very real sense of what it might be like to suffer from the illness, and, combined with fantastic acting all round, it is easy to empathise with both grandmother and granddaughter in their parallel but very different suffering.

However, the play is not at all simply heartache; there are plenty of light-hearted moments, and the sadness and the humour are perfectly balanced.

Coulthard and Rutherford are just as brilliant, natural and funny as each other – Rutherford’s comic timing is impeccable – and Rowan Polonski as Rosie’s doctor boyfriend is impossibly charming and likeable.

A captivating production that will stay with you for days afterwards, not only through its portrayal of illness but also through its celebration of the love and laughter between family.

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