The mood is immediately set when walking into the theatre; the stylish and romantic melodies of These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) by Nat Cole King linger in the air. An elderly couple sleep peacefully holding each other. The stillness quickly ceases when Eddie Usher as a young drunk man opens with a sticking monologue that touches on what it is to forget and to remember, and if it all really matters in the end?
The story that subsequently unfolds belongs to Ingrid, a character sensitively handled by Illona Linthwaite. Ingrid has frontotemporal dementia and this changes her experience of the world and how others experience her. Her husband Sven, played by Robert Hickson, repeatedly loses his patience when trying to encourage medicine taking or getting dressed and their highly-strung daughter talks to Ingrid as if she’s a child. Ingrid however remains somewhat unaffected by these perspectives, she has her own worldview that she from time to time gets lost in but it’s one full of neon and fluorescent colour. Our journey into Ingrid’s mindseye through soliloquies and flashback memories reveal just how crucially beautiful that world can be, especially when she describes a raspberry mousse as a ‘little crimson sky’.
This brave and necessary play brings to light some important points in time for Dementia Action Week this week. One of them being the significance of carers and volunteers who possess the ability to remain warm and playful as demonstrated by Ingrid’s carers, particularly Maria played exceptionally by Sophie Dora-Hall, who make a continual effort to enter Ingrid's universe.
It has been written by a renowned 13th-century Persian poet that ‘when past and future dissolve, there is only you’. Brainville at Night beautifully portrays this philosophy with the informed writing of Alexander Moschos, the strong direction from Matthew Parker, and the awareness and expertise of the cast. This is not a show to be missed.
Brainville at Night is showing Tuesday, May 22, and Wednesday, May 23, at The Warren: The Blockhouse.
Guest review by Rachelle Foster