An Evening with Dementia @ The Space at the Radisson Hotel
Award winner of the 2010 Fringe
As we enter the intimate acting area, an old man sitting in a plaid dressing gown, a crocheted blanket over his knees, one hand trembling, does not appear to be aware of our presence. We could be visitors in a care home.
Trevor T. Smith, former Royal Shakespeare Company actor, in his own one-person play about the experience of dementia is convincing, a magnificent performance, both funny and moving. He does not admit to suffering from dementia. He only has it. He refuses to suffer from anything. At first he appears to have all his wits about him, with sharp, observant remarks, but it becomes clear he 'does not remember what he remembers' often repeating information such as that he used to be an actor.
Accounts of visitors who may or may not be relatives is heart-rending and particularly devastating is the visit of 'the Zimmerframe', a woman whom we gather must be his wife, but to him is a stranger. The loneliness of not having your own memories, not even being a companion to yourself, is the worst. Many members of the audience have left in tears, but expressed gratitude at now being able to understand what a relative is going through.