Tag Archives: Re-Live Theatre

Review Belonging Re-live by Kiera Sikora

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

The new production from Re-Live, written by Karin Diamond and directed by Peter Doran, focuses on the stories of two different families. Both families have one thing in common; one member of each family has dementia. But this play does more than tell the story of the horribly hurtful truth of the illness, it also tells us the story of the people who surround those with dementia, in a deeply delicate and witty Welsh way.

One family, a mother (Francine Morgan) with a son (Nathan Sussex), a daughter (Karin Diamond) and a grandchild are struggling through what seems to be the beginning of them recognising the mother’s illness. Her daughter is worried; her son is (at first) oblivious. The mother is frightened and increasingly forgetful sparking some worry in not only her family but her friends too. But amid the worry is the ever faithful humour the mother inhabits, her ability to make a laugh and a joke about her forgetfulness carries them as does her eventual willingness to listen to her family, their worries and fears and also her own.

The other family are an older married couple who have spent 42 beautiful years together in their happily bilingual love story of a life. But their story changes in front of us. We see Morris (Llion Williams), the husband, transform into the illness at a rapid pace. It is, in the most innocently brutal way, hard to watch. His chatty self disappears almost, as he loses his English and speaks only Welsh making communication a difficult deed for his non-Welsh speaking wife. He reverts back to his childhood memories frequently and it is only when his wonderful carer helps him to indulge his own world that we see him feeling comfortable again. Their story pays particular attention to Morris’ wife (Clêr Stephens) too, showing how far those around an ill loved one can feel pushed to the brink while also showing us how the courage, positivity and happy help of others is a golden necessity for anyone living with dementia.

‘Belonging’ is a deeply effective play. Yes, it’s upsetting and painful to watch at times and it’s quick wit does make it’s story feel very close to home. But it’s also a privilege. Rarely do we feel truly touched by what we see on stage; rarely do we see illness being talked about so freely. And rarely do we take the time to recognise that there are people who need us to do just that. To just talk. And to be told how to help and to be told that it’s okay to ask a person if they’d like our help. To some that message may seem obvious but seeing what we need to hear on stage brings a certain confidence to an audience. Re-Live have done just that having used theatre so warmly, to help us engage in conversation that would otherwise go unspoken because of the silence that can sometimes surround an illness like dementia.

Karin Diamond along with Peter Doran and their superb cast have tackled a treat of show. It’ll make you smile, cry and laugh- and you may even do all three all at once.

Torch Theatre, Milford Haven- 19th, 20th May

Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli- 24th May

Pontio, Bangor- 26th, 27th May

Neaudd Ucheldre, Holyhead- 31st May

Galeri, Caernarfon- 2nd June

Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon- June 8th

http://www.re-live.org.uk/belonging/

Review Belonging Re-Live Theatre by Helen Joy

Belonging

Review from a 3rd Act Critic and Older People’s Involvement Worker

“Feeling Affected, in a Good Way”

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It’s sold out.

Gently twanging music plays around the warm space as we settle into our seats. I am sitting between the usher and two women from the Wales Arts Council. We introduce ourselves and look down on the audience – average age, maybe 35? Surprising. And I am pleased.

The stage is dimly lit and we can see a wooden room – a staircase, bookshelves, television and pictures, a small lamp on a side table. Simple. It is a home, someone’s home with the usual vase of dried flowers gathering dust and memories to one side.

I have been warned. It is a tear jerker. Ah but it will be bread and butter to me, apparently. It won’t touch me – it’s my job.

It is two stories – a mother and her children; and a long married couple. It is a small cast scampering through complicated emotions, making us believe they are different people at different times even when they are the same person by name. From the start, I am transfixed by their abilities and follow their journeys with some fear and some hope. But only some hope – I am convinced this play will go the way of most – a depressing indictment of dementia and social services.

It does make a few political points about services – unnecessary, I feel – please do not tell me what to think; I have been there, you know. I am here for a play about belonging.

And this they do well. The stories duly plunge into confusion, misery, loss and anger with moments of utter hopelessness. But they hold on.

Through scenes of stress-driven tragedy we join in their epiphanies and cariad, we move on. My tears – and I am not alone, all around me people gently wipe their faces – are now for joy. The future is ok. These remarkable characters are safe somehow.

Does this play glorify dementia and its impact? Most definitely not. Does it give false hope? No. Does it give some sense that people experiencing dementia are lessened by it? No.

Practitioners should see this work – it offers an oriel onto the legitimate feelings of everyone affected by this disease and its different forms.

We are always being told how we should behave, what we should and shouldn’t say and do around people experiencing dementia.. but we are all human, with all the complexities that brings; and this play shows us that that is ok too.

Huge applause and the usher steps aside. We nod to each other and I leave the dark womb of the theatre.

Cat, apple, sausage – we are all checking our memory function and checking our tears as we wander into the light outside.

ReLive H Joy

Event:                      Belonging

At:                             Chapter Arts Centre

Playwright:          Karin Diamond

Director:               Peter Doran

Theatre:                Re-Live Theatre

Seen:                      2pm, 6 May, 2016

Reviewer:           Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics

Running:              May 2nd – 7th 2016, May 2nd – 7.30pm, BSL May 3rd                                                                         6th – 2pm, 7.30pm daily

Links:               http://www.re-live.org.uk/belonging/