Soho Theatre + Writers' Centre, London W1
Opened 18 January, 2001

Alzheimer's Disease and lesbianism: not the frothiest combination of subjects, but Bryony Lavery's play is serious without becoming grim.

Kika Markham gives a first-rate performance of the decline into dementia: one moment all silent serenity, the next screaming unwonted obscenities and laying into the unfamiliar man handling her husband's golf trophies... it is, of course, her husband. The irony is that her character is a former lecturer in medicine, prone to start delivering one of her old papers as too-graphic dinner-table conversation. In a heartbreaking moment, she ends a discourse on Alzheimer's itself by remarking, "I've got it, haven't I?" heartbreaking because the nature of the disease is such that this realisation lasts only a moment before the clouds start scudding across again.

Her story is intercut with that of her daughter who, after a lesbian quickie in the loos at a wedding reception, fights shy of a committed relationship with her new girlfriend. Jackie Clune is always warm and watchable, but with a faint yet persistent air of the cat who's just got the cream.  It's a bit gratuitous, too, to exploit Clune's singing skills by writing in a rendition of "The Look Of Love". But this is a beautifully mature work from Lavery, directed with customary sensitivity by Annie Castledine.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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