We received two reviews of this play. Be sure to check out dan45ist’s review as well.
Things have taken a serious turn after Mental Health Week. With my own family struggles in this area and the lack of decent care and assistance going today, I have craved a piece to express these frustrations. I didn’t have to look too far for this…
In comes Before I Leave, a new play by Patrick Jones tackling Alzheimer’s Disease and those it affects the most. I’ve heard great things about the work, with standing ovations each night. Could this be the piece which makes people rise up against the disastrous methods of care and support that are given today for mental health? It’s a sobering prospect…
The piece brilliantly captures the essence of today’s concerns with Alzheimer’s and the realisation that music therapy is an invaluable resource is proven in the text. It does however fall into that familiar troupe of the over sentimental Brit flick: the underdog prevailing over all costs. One thinks of Made in Dagenham, Billy Elliot, Calendar Girls and how easily even this could be made into a film.
These characters featured could easily be our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, such is the hyper realistic presentation. Each of the mature actors did outstanding jobs depicting the deterioration of their minds and how the families and carers are left picking up the pieces. Whether miner or policeman, rocker or even secretary, these people are together and there to do that most wonderful of things: sing.
There were plenty of tears and sniffles heard around the theatre. I’m sure many audience members recalled their own troubled times of loved ones with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or something just as bad. It was simply one of those pieces where you went and had a really good cry (my plus one cried buckets).
My teary moment came when Gaynor Morgan Rees as Marge had her operatic moment, in finally trying out her solo in Tosca, as she listened to Callas on vinyl. Another scene between couple Joe and Dyanne (Martin Marquez and Melanie Walters) is a hotbed of tension and upset, as he defends himself with a knife, realising his condition and trying to come to terms with the care he will require (leading to his arrest). Two highlights of many uplifting moments. Singer and coach to the choir Scott, here played by the excellent Oliver Wood delivers super songs and rallies his flock to become the best singers they could ever be.
To all involved, this is a piece very well put together and the role it will play in the near future can’t be underestimated. Well done to all involved!
Heartbreaking theatre with a pivotal message.
Rating: 4 stars
Before I Leave continues to show until June 11th 2016 at the Sherman Theatre.
Cover image credit: Festival of Voice website.