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Posts Tagged ‘Francesca Riedy’

You’d be forgiven for thinking a play about dementia would be heavy going, but the subject is handled so sensitively, with delicate humour, in this Barney Norris play that it’s enthralling and uplifting rather than depressing.

In a farm close to Salisbury, Arthur and Edie are in their twilight years. Arthur still runs the farm, but Edie is beginning to suffer from dementia. A carer, Katie, arrives and bonds quickly with both of them. Their son Stephen visits, an unhappy man with a marriage close to breakdown. He’s trying to be pragmatic, but it comes out as cold. We follow the course of Edie’s illness and her son’s marriage breakdown to the point where Edie needs a care home and Stephen a new home.

Stephen clumsily attempts to connect with the much younger Kate and seems deeply envious of his parents love. The contrast between the warmth of Edie and Arthur’s love for one another, inseparable since first meeting many years ago, plus Kate’s closeness with the couple and Stephen’s loveless marriage and total lack of emotional intelligence is extraordinary.

This is all beautifully acted. The incomparable Linda Bassett is wonderful as Edie and her and Robin Soans’ Arthur have such chemistry they seem like a real couple. Eleanor Wyld is lovely as the unlikely but affectionate carer Kate. It must be very hard for Simon Muller to play against all this empathy but he does so brilliantly, with his eventual show of emotion both surprising and shattering.

Fransesca Riedy’s simple design has great intimacy, bringing you right into their home, with a backdrop of shelves housing the memories of a whole life and there’s a real attention to detail in Chloe Courtney’s impeccable direction.

This is a surprisingly lovely show.

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