UNFORGETTABLE by Tim Elgood
Bonington Theatre, Arnold
"Unforgettable" is the story of a brother and sister, Jed and Rosie, who we meet at the wake of their father's funeral. We learn that their mother suffers from Alzheimers and it's how the pair have grown up and learned to cope with their mother's disease. It's what they've been through by putting their lives almost on hold to care for her and the far reaching results even after their mother dies, which is what closes the first act.In act two we discover that Rosie also has Alzheimers and the caring process continues with Jed looking after Rosie.
Although being a serious subject, there is so much comedy, and natural comedy in this play, wonderfully and lovingly written by Tim Elgood, whose mother in law also died from this disease. There's also some very poignant moments in act two, and especially at the end. There's a running "joke", if you like, from the very start of the play about Jed offering to give Rosie a hug and her rebuffing this show of affection. This carries through the play right up to the end with Rosie suffering from Alzheimers, where she allows him to give her, not so much a hug, but a bit of a cuddle, and this simple moment reveals the fact that Rosie has either forgotten what she normally says to turn down the offer, or she has given in and accepts the affection that her younger brother wants to give. I personally found this moment incredibly sad and touching.
The play is shown from the view point of the elder siblings and from when they were younger, as well as in the latter stages of their lives. The four actors were mesmerising to watch, especially in the late stages of their lives. The younger and latter periods were both played by Adam Donaldson and Hayley Doherty and the middle period by Lennox Greaves and Anna Lindup.
Tim really created a pair of wonderful characters in Jed and Rosie. The decline of Rosie from a fiesty divorcee to a the almost broken woman who seemed to have given up, where as in the past she would've fought for anything, was a beautiful piece of writing. It was almost the opposite with Jed though as he started, and we learned throughout the play, as being a person not at all confident with himself or his lot. Never married and as we learn, never had a relationship right up to his early sixties, and thanks to Rosie, he discovers the joy of sharing his life with someone outside the family. As one thorny rose withers, another flourishes.
A simple but effective set,designed by Gem Greaves, moved into place by the other pair of actors when not playing their parts. Mark Pritchard designed the lighting for this show and created a lovely, subtle highlighting effect to ensure that we were focused on what the writer wanted us to focus on. The soundtrack was of classic songs ranging from Sinatra and The Beatles to Leonard Cohen.
This wasn't like watching a play most of the time, more like eavesdropping on a conversation with two people, and this has to be the naturalistic approach of the director, Theresa Keogh.
It was a shame that more people did not turn out for this wonderful, powerful and sobering play which was the winner of the New Perspectives Long Play competition 2014. The play was on for just the one night but is touring. To find out more about the play and where you can see it, please visit newperspectives.co.uk.