Theatre Review - In Other Words

MATTHEW Seager’s affecting play originally played at Islington’s Hope Theatre six years ago, before enjoying a successful transfer to France, where, as Oublie Moi, it won four Molière awards.

This run at the Arcola precedes a UK tour and is in partnership with The Utley Foundation’s Music for Dementia campaign, whose goal is to make music an integral part of dementia care.

In Other Words explores the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s on one couple, and suggests music can help reconnect those living with dementia to their loved ones and the world around them.

Arthur (Seager) meets his future wife Jane (Lianne Harvey) at a dance. He spills wine over her but they bond over Frank Sinatra. Years later, Arthur is showing signs of dementia. He goes to the shop to buy milk but forgets why he is there.

In a series of meetings with the doctor we see how quickly his memory begins to fail him. At first Arthur can remember the unrelated words he’s given, “Labrador, grass, apple”, then he fails to recall one word or two, finally he loses their meaning altogether.

In Andy Routledge’s evocative production, the team work hard to create the effects of Alzheimer’s using sensory means – in particular through Iida Aino’s sound and Will Alder’s lighting.

The audience experience what it is like to be in Arthur’s head, the incessant noise he has to deal with and bursts of bright lighting. This is punctuated with fragments from Sinatra which bring him some respite. We watch as Ruth, now his carer, attempts to reassure Arthur while struggling with her own emotions.

The opening scenes are a little stilted, but these are demanding roles and it’s hard not to be profoundly moved by this bittersweet two-hander.

until September 30

Originally publahed by Islington Tribune