Writer: The Company
Director: Sam Hardie and Lucas Button
Reviewer: Tom Ralphs
Madness’ Our House plays in the background, while two people create a Happy 70th Birthday banner, and another two decorate the house and anticipate the arrival of birthday boy Alan. It’s a light, entertaining opening to a play that then takes a darker turn and continues down that road until its conclusion.
The first fringe show from Mad Like Roar it hints at a promising future for the company, taking an imaginative approach to how it handles its subject matter of Alan’s dementia and the effect it has on his two children.
Daughter Daisy and her partner Christian, move in to live with Alan. Christian is a plant scientist, which means that Alan’s beloved, but neglected, garden can once more be in safe hands. Daisy’s chances as an artist are less positive in the new environment. Alan’s son Oliver, a city trader, finds it harder to deal with his dad’s illness, possibly because he is no longer there to cheer him on in life. Becca, the carer employed to ease the burden on Daisy, adds an external take on Alan’s illness and the thankless task of trying to cope with it.
While only occasionally discussing the illness directly, the reactions of the characters to each other reveals a lot and the metaphor of the garden is fully explored. There are also some good pieces of physical theatre, particularly when the reality of Alan’s condition seems to hit home to Oliver on a trading floor.
However, there is something very stereotyped and obvious about the two children and their reactions, and it also feels like a work in progress where the devised elements need a stronger underlying script to really tie them all together and make the most of the potential it undoubtedly has.
Reviewed on 23 August, running from 2 to 28 August 2017 | Image: Heather Pasfield