Imagine what it would be like to discover that the person you married and have lived with for 20 years no longer remembers you. And, since we are all living longer, the chances of living with a loved-one with dementia are increasing all the time.
Did you see the film, Still Alice with Julianne Moore?
In the last few months there have been four plays on the loss of memory: two by Frank Zeller, The Father and The Mother; one by Peter Quilter, 4,000 Days; and an adapation of Jean Anouilh’s Le Voyageur sans baggage by Anthony Weigh.
Nick Payne, author of the award-winning Constellations, sets his short new play, Elegy, in the near future. It’s so short he has to repeat the opening scene verbatim in order to last just over an hour.
The stage is dominated by a split oak tree in a glass exhibition cabinet.
A married couple had to make a difficult decision: whether to let nature take its course and have a painful death or to have an operation on the brain and lose completely the memory of the last 20 years?
Barbara Flynn and Zoe Wanamaker are well cast as the couple in Jose Rourke’s production.
Wanamaker, hard and edgy, is the one who was ill and degenerating, and now has been given a second life and wants to start afresh.
Flynn, devastated and heartbroken, is the one who looked after her and cared for her all through her illness, only to find their situations are reversed. It is she now, not her partner, who no longer has a life.
Images courtesy of Johan Persson