This painful and heartbreaking play beautifully explores the relationship between mother and daughter – as Alzheimer’s begins to take hold.
Written and performed by Kate Maravan, The Old House is a wonderfully vivid and honest look at the impact that Alzheimer’s has on families as seen through the eyes of one mother and daughter.
Based on Maravan’s own experiences with her mother, the mother and daughter in this play are revisiting their old house – filled with memories that are becoming increasingly important for the daughter to hold onto. This will be particularly raw for anyone whose loved one has experienced this tragic disease to watch , as it is a play that is truthful in the way in which it handles this sensitive topic – such as when the mother starts forgetting where she is and asking the daughter ‘Who are you?’ it really breaks the heart.
Over the course of the hour, the audience witness a huge range of emotions from frustration and anger to love and happiness, all vividly brought to life thanks to Maravan’s compelling performance that gets to the heart of both characters perfectly. This is particularly seen when the daughter longs for her mother to help her through her pain of losing one of her twin babies – it is a truly gripping and heart wrenching moment of realisation of what she has lost.
Set by the sea, the gentle background sound of the waves along with Vincent Manna’s movement direction and Kath Burlinso’s direction keep the show ebbing and flowing beautifully. It really enhances just how that while the pair are growing apart, they are still able to connect to each other through their memories. Walks along the beach, visits to carnivals and drinking wine all help to trigger different memories between them both, keeping the conversation varied.
The script is very poetic but also extremely honest – while conjuring up hugely vivid descriptions of these memories that are shared, it also feels that a lot of careful thought has gone into ensuring that the tone is just right.
It is a very bittersweet play that was particularly hard for me to watch but it was sensitively brought to life that makes it worth watching.
By Emma Clarendon
The Old House is available to watch through The Actors Centre until the 13th December.